Traditionally, people may associate varicose veins with aging, however they can develop in the young too, affecting people of all ages. 80% of the time, this is a heredity problem, although other factors can contribute such as weight, hormones and lifestyle. They will affect up to 33% of us at some point in our lives and are most common in women.
Whilst any vein can theoretically become varicose, symptoms present typically in the lower body (feet and legs). This is because these areas of the body receive the most pressure during daily activities such as standing and walking. Varicose veins can have a serious effect on self-esteem, and often leave sufferers reaching for the 100 denier tights or even avoiding dresses altogether.
Most of the time, varicose veins do not present a serious health problem, although they can cause discomfort such as achy legs, swollen ankles and feet is often felt. If your GP has ruled out any risk to your health, or your symptoms are not significant enough to warrant referral, you will rarely be offered treatment on the NHS for purely cosmetic reasons. There are also few actions you can take to physically improve the appearance of the problem yourself, although you may be able to ease symptoms by increasing your exercise routine and moving around regularly if you spend prolonged amounts of time sitting down.
If you are troubled by the appearance of varicose veins and treatment has been ruled out by the NHS, you may be motivated to have your problem investigated privately should your finances allow. Because of the large number of people affected by the condition, there are increasing numbers of readily available options for those seeking help. Typically, this would always commence with an assessment by a qualified Vascular Surgeon who would investigate your individual case and carry out diagnostic tests. Some clinics now specialise in specifically treating this problem and are used to seeing self-paying patients on a regular basis, meaning information about cost and waiting times are transparent and available upfront. The type of treatment that you will receive is based on individual assessment and will be discussed with you prior to moving forward. In some cases, a ‘package’ can be offered that will cover pre-assessment, treatment and follow up so your financial expectations are managed. Where you receive, the treatment will depend on the specialist you see, with some operating out of private hospitals, and others from their own dedicated clinic unit.
As with all private medical treatment, you should ensure your surgeon is reputable, qualified and registered and look for previous patient testimonials to help make your choice.
If you suffer from vascular disease or are concerned about heredity risk, further reading can be found on websites such as the Circulation Foundation.