That is how many people with varicose veins feel. Many will put up with a bit of aching and the dragging feeling they experience, but hate the way their legs look.
My mother used to say that her legs looked like blue vein cheese and she was embarrassed to let others see them. There is nothing glamorous about bulging varicose veins!
Varicose veins may develop through a combination of weakened vein walls and faulty valves. This means that blood which should be flowing towards the heart starts to flow backwards.
The valves, which open to allow blood to flow through and then close to stop it flowing backward, may also malfunction. This allows the blood to pool and pressure to build up, further weakening and subsequently damaging the veins.
This pooling of blood is what we see in the bulging of the veins.
Up to 40% of women and 25% of men are affected by varicose veins of varying severity. That is over 500,000 women and 250,000 men over the age of 25 in New Zealand!
The good news is… You don’t have to live with varicose veins!
Surgery is for some people still the best option, but for the majority there are now less invasive, highly effective options that give a better cosmetic result.
There is now a better understanding of the importance of compression socks and stockings and many of the ones available are comfortable and look like ordinary hose. If the veins need active treatment, many people will get good results with Sclerotherapy (injections). For the bigger veins this is done under ultrasound and is referred to as Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy, or UGS.
For suitable patients many clinicians now regard laser therapy as being the best option. Internationally it is now being regarded as the ‘Gold Standard’ for treatment. It has fewer risks than surgery and the long-term results are excellent.
The procedure is quick and has minimal interference with normal daily activities. It is not unknown for people to go back to work immediately afterwards. It can be done in the doctor’s room under local anaesthetic and the majority of people are delighted with the results.
Endovenous laser treatment uses laser energy to achieve great results without the discomfort and long recovery time associated with the surgical stripping procedure. The procedure takes about one hour and you can return to normal activity almost immediately afterward.
For the treatment, a thin laser fibre is inserted into the damaged vein. Then under local anaesthetic, a laser light is emitted through the fibre and the targeted tissue reacts with the light energy causing the vein to close and seal shut. The veins that are closed off are superficial ones that handle less than 5% of your blood flow and the blood is automatically diverted to other veins.
As can be seen in these photos the change can be dramatic. Not only will your legs look better, but they will feel better as well. No more aching legs at night.
Your legs can stop being an embarrassment. My mother used to say that knobbly blue veins are only acceptable in cheese!
New Zealand Medical & Scientific