Varicose veins are the largest of the abnormal veins which occur in the legs. They are usually visible as dilated, soft, rope like
swellings on the legs. Varicose veins form because of failure of the valves in the veins, which causes reverse (downward) flow of blood. This increases the pressure in the surface veins causing them to become dilated. Sometimes varicose veins are present deeper below the skin surface and may not be visible, but may cause a collection of surface veins or other symptoms.
Apart from the unsightly appearance, varicose veins can cause leg tiredness, aching, restless legs at night time, and cramping pains. In more advanced stages there may be ankle swelling, dark discolouration of the skin in the lower legs, eczema (rash and itching) on the lower legs, and leg ulcers.
Occasionally dilated varicose veins may burst spontaneously or with mild trauma and cause profuse bleeding.
Varicose veins may be treated with microsclerotherapy, ultrasound guided sclerotherapy or endovenous laser (EVLT), depending on the size and location of the veins.
A small minority of people may have varicose veins which are unable to be treated with minimally invasive techniques and may need to be referred for surgical treatment. In order to determine the best course of action, ultrasound mapping of the veins is necessary before making this decision. Dr McMaster will recommend and refer to locally based vascular surgeons as necessary.