BLOG - A BAN ON VARICOSE VEIN SURGERY? REALLY.... 

Varicose Vein surgery has been named in a list of 17 procedures that NHS England has deemed unnecessary as it aims to save money and even out the current postcode lottery for some treatments.  
 
This has probably got varicose vein sufferers in a panic but let’s take a look at what varicose veins are and what non-surgical treatment options are out there. 
 
There are many factors that would make you prone to various veins and wouldn’t you know it being female is one, as is being pregnant.  
 
Family history, being overweight, age and prolonged periods of standing for example as part of your job all contribute and the more boxes you tick the more likely you are to develop varicose veins. 
Photo by Eirik Skarstein on Unsplash 
Essentially a varicose vein is a very weak vein [see swollen ankles]. In a normal vein the veins walls and a system of valves assist the flow of blood up the veins towards the heart.  
 
In a weak vein the bloods return flow to the heart is not supported by these systems and gravity helps blood pool in the vessels, stretching them and weakening them further. 
 
Visually these are unsightly, creating areas of raised, blue venous bundles. But are they dangerous? They certainly can be painful and stain the skin brown due to leaky fluid. They can cause eczema in the area where the skin is stained and where the vessels flow close to the skin they can bleed and ulcerate. Very occasionally they can cause a clot. 
 
If these symptoms don’t have you jumping with joy you may be wondering why surgery is off the cards. 
 
Firstly, there is more than one type of varicose vein and one of the most common type telangiectasia varicose veins i.e. spider veins would not be operated on. Of the other two types: reticular varicose veins and trunk varicose veins the latter is the type we commonly think of when we think of varicose veins. 
 
Trunk varicose veins can be simply unsightly, and these will not be eligible for NHS England surgery. However, there are specific criteria which your specialist will know which will still allow you to receive surgical treatment. 
 
So, it’s not a blanket ban and I suppose that’s not as headline worthy. But as with so many medical conditions self-care is vitally important in prevention and early stage treatment. 
 
If we look at the causes there is a lot we can do, except in many cases being a female and being pregnant. Losing weight, exercise (even just walking) and avoid standing for prolonged periods, and if you have no choice because of your job, try to have supportive or cushioned footwear. 
 
If you are developing some varicose veins, when you rest elevate your legs, ideally above the level of your heart. This reduces the force of gravity dragging venous blood down and prevents it pooling in the weakened areas. Also wear firm pressure graduated support stockings during the day, this helps support the veins and assists the flow of blood towards the heart. 
 
A ban on surgery’s sounds scary but look after yourself and hopefully won’t ever get that far. 
Tagged as: Varicose Veins
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