What is Venous Reflux?
Venous Reflux (also called Venous Insufficiency) is a condition that results in progressive dilatation and tortuosity of the veins, leading to formation of varicose veins. This is caused by a malfunctioning in the valves, inside each of your leg veins. The valves regulate the flow of blood in the direction of the heart, each time your calf muscle contracts. But when the valves are leaky, there is venous reflux, causing the blood to pool in that vein. This is what causes bulging veins or varicose veins.
Causes And Symptoms Of Venous Reflux
Venous reflux is the underlying cause of varicose veins. Whilst your attention may be drawn to the visible problem because of cosmetic concerns, more serious health concerns can also exist.
Chronic venous reflux is mostly an inherited condition but more common in obese people, pregnant women, and people that have an occupation that involves a lot of standing ie. hairdressers, nurses, teachers, etc. You are also more prone to venous reflux if you have experienced trauma to your leg through an injury or surgery.
If left untreated, you may experience leg swelling and oedema, inflammation in the veins and surrounding skin, or venous eczema. Other symptoms include skin ulceration and discolouration and thickening (Lipodermatosclerosis), superficial and deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and spontaneous bleeding.
Early symptoms include tired, heavy, restless, aching or itchy legs. If you feel pain or cramps in your legs, they may indicate an underlying problem of venous reflux. If you also detect bulging veins on your legs, it is recommended to see your doctor.
Treatments For Venous Reflux
There are a wide range of treatment options for venous reflux. At The Vein Clinic we have developed a particular expertise in minimally invasive, non-surgical vein treatment options. We understand that treating veins doesn’t have to involve a big operation or surgery. Our highly advanced treatments don’t require a hospital stay, and can take place right here in our state-of-the-art Perth clinic, so you can go home or return to work much quicker.
These treatments include endovenous laser ablation, ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, ultrasound-guided ambulatory phlebectomy and direct/assisted vision microsclerotherapy treatment for surface spider veins.
Our Approach to Treatment
Treatment of large malfunctioning veins (trunk)
Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLA) to great, small, and/or anterior accessory saphenous veins. 60 minutes
Treatment of large varicose veins (branches)
Phlebectomy removal of larger bulging varicose veins 90-120 minutescombined with
Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy (UGFS) on smaller veins. 30 minutes
Treatment of small varicose veins (branches) if required
Extra sessions of UGFS to close smaller veins if identified as required at post-treatment follow-up scan 30 minutes
You may not require this stage.
Optional treatment surface veins (leaves)
Usually done by Microsclerotherapy 30 minutes
Most patients require multiple treatment sessions to remove spider veins.
Follow up and maintenance to ensure best results
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I have varicose veins?
Most varicose vein issues are hereditary. If you have one parent with varicose veins your risk of having them is around 65%. If both parents are affected the risk rises to approximately 90%. Another main risk factor for women is pregnancy, with the risk increasing with each additional pregnancy. Standing occupations such as hairdressers, nurses, and chefs also have a high risk of varicose veins as gravity puts pressure on the veins and weakens them.
How do I prevent varicose veins?
Once varicose veins are present, they will not resolve of their own accord. Measures to reduce the rate of progression include maintaining a normal healthy weight and going for regular walks of 20-30 minutes per day. Reducing the length of time spent on the feet in a stationary position may help and alternating between standing and sitting positions during the day will also reduce the pressure on the veins.
What will happen if I don’t treat these veins?
Generally, without treatment, varicose veins will get progressively worse over time. Symptoms may occur such as heaviness, ache, pain, and tiredness in the legs towards the end of the day. Further progression may result in leg swelling, itch, skin discolouration, and eventual skin ulceration. Blood clots related to superficial venous thrombosis may also occur in severe cases and can lead to the more serious condition of Deep Vein Thrombosis.
What treatment options exist?
Outdated, old-fashioned options such as surgical stripping are rapidly becoming obsolete due to poor long-term success, with recurrence rates of up to 50%. Modern treatment options include endovenous laser ablation, sclerotherapy injections, and ultrasound-guided ambulatory phlebectomy. In many cases a combination of different treatments will give the best long-term results.
Will the veins come back after treatment?
Many people are concerned that the treatment will be of limited value because the veins will just come back. This was certainly the case in the days of surgical stripping with a 50% recurrence rate at 5 years; however, using the latest minimally invasive techniques, we can reduce the risk of recurrent varicose veins to the baseline risk of approximately 3% per year.
What is the downtime following treatment?
This depends on the type of procedure performed and the severity of the veins being treated. Modern treatment with laser can involve no time off work and approximately two weeks off heavy gym work and four weeks off international travel.
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