Varicose veins are one of the most common vascular disorders, affecting nearly 10% of adults. If you’re living in Hong Kong and suffering from this condition here’s a guide to help with necessary information about varicose vein treatment.
Varicose vein guide
We’re going to share with you:
- Exactly what varicose veins are
- Why you get them and what they feel like
- Problems that can be associated with varicose veins
- How to treat varicose veins
We’re not medical professionals here at SavvyinHK and although we have consulted with a doctor on this article don’t take anything we say as medical fact – always speak to a doctor about your specific concerns.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins look like thin blue lines on your legs and can turn into something that looks like curly fries or worms under your skin.
Varicose veins are normally caused by increased blood pressure in the veins near the surface of the skin.
Veins all have valves in them which stop your blood from flowing back and keep it always heading up. Those valves can get weakened or damaged which means that the blood sits in your veins rather than going where it needs to be.
They don’t look pretty, that’s for sure.
They only occur in your legs because it’s the only part of the body that really has to work hard to get your blood flowing against gravity.
What causes varicose veins to appear?
Whilst doctors have a good understanding of the risk factors that will likely cause varicose veins to appear, no one’s figured out why the valves fail in some people’s leg veins.
There is a range of risk factors, some of which your mum probably warned you about, “spend too long stood there, you’ll get varicose veins when you’re older”. Or was that just my mum?
According to science, varicose veins can be caused by:
- Gender – women are more likely than men to get varicose veins
- Genetics – if your mum or aunts have varicose veins, treatment may be needed
- Age – as you get older your veins become weaker
- Weight – obesity can put more pressure on your circulation
- Your job – if you’ve got to spend lots of time standing up or sitting down, you’re at higher risk
- Pregnancy – just another thing you have to concern yourself with when you’re growing a child
Symptoms of varicose veins
Probably the first thing you’ll notice when you get varicose veins are the little blue lines on your calf or thighs. This is where the blood has stopped moving in those veins and is just sitting there instead.
From there, it’s likely they’ll get bigger – the curly fries, eighties perm, earthworms type of look of blue and purple bulges on your thighs, shins, calves, or feet.
For lots of people, that may be as much as you ever experience – although you should always get varicose veins checked out by a doctor in case there are other issues.
However, without treatment, varicose veins can be a right pain, quite literally. You may experience:
- A heavy, achy feeling in your legs
- Cramps and swelling – called edema – in your lower legs
- Itchiness and patches of dry, flaky skin around the veins
- Discolored and/or ulcerated skin around your ankles
- More pain than normal after a long time standing or sitting
Not much fun, right?
Complications of varicose veins
Although you’re unlikely to experience complications from varicose veins, it is possible.
Not to scare you at all, but you do need to know the worst-case scenarios when you’re considering getting, or not getting varicose vein treatment.
Some common complications that can arise if you eschew varicose vein treatment include:
- Phlebitis, which is blood clots that can get swollen, painful, and hot
- Bleeding can be caused by a knock that punctures the skin, with quite a lot of blood
- Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is potentially linked to varicose veins
- Venous insufficiency occurs when not enough blood can flow back up to your body from your leg veins
- Skin problems like eczema or dermatitis can develop, and in extreme cases, lipodermatosclerosis can occur, which is a hardening and reddening of your skin
- Ulcers may form near the varicose veins, particularly near the ankles
- Swelling is a result of increased blood pressure and toxins in the veins
There’s no real way to know if you’ll ever be affected by these complications. If any of them appear or you’re concerned at all, remember to seek help from a doctor.
What treatments are available for varicose veins?
Luckily, you don’t have to just live with these problems, there are effective varicose vein treatments available.
The type of treatment needed for varicose veins will depend on different factors, such as how deep the veins are that need treating and how big the veins are, too.
We’re going to look at the three most common types of varicose vein treatment. Make a booking to seek the advice of a qualified doctor – always listen to the professionals.
This varicose vein treatment is the most common method of treating both spider and varicose veins – I’ve personally tried this method and was extremely happy with the results. I only wondered why I didn’t do it a LOT sooner.
The procedure is relatively simple and non-surgical; requiring only an injection. This treatment doesn’t usually require anesthesia or any other particular preparation.
The process for sclerotherapy for varicose veins is:
- A salt (saline) or chemical solution will be injected into your varicose veins
- The solution irritates the vein causing it to swell which will cut off the flow of blood, letting other veins take over blood supply
There shouldn’t be any problem with going home the same day. Those beautiful compression stockings will be yours for a week or more, though.
You might experience bruising, and there’s also the possibility that you will need follow-up treatment to ensure a vein is fully collapsed.
Be sure you chat about all the risks with your doctor. If you’re worried about it at all, speak with your doctor and ask as many questions as you need to.
Intravenous radiofrequency ablation
Intravenous radiofrequency ablation is more invasive than sclerotherapy but less invasive than surgery.
It probably sounds scarier than it is, so to put it into simple terms for you, here’s what happens:
- The doctor will scan your leg with an ultrasound so they can find the vein that needs treating
- A small cut will be made a little above or below your knee
- A catheter, or small tube, is put into the vein
- Once inside, the catheter will give off a radio signal that heats up the vein
- The heat causes the vein to collapse in on itself and shut off the blood supply
You may be kept awake for the procedure and have it done under a local anesthetic, or you may be put to sleep with a general anesthetic.
Either way, you should be home the same day and the most common aftereffect is pins and needles in your leg – probably not worse than any paid you to have with your varicose veins.
Compression stockings will probably be needed for a week or so after, but your doctor will be more specific with you.
Varicose vein surgery
If sclerotherapy and radiofrequency ablation aren’t suitable for you, you might be offered varicose vein surgery. This procedure is also called “ligation and stripping” involves tying off the vein and then removing it.
When you have surgery for varicose veins you’ll:
- Be put under general anesthetic, usually
- Have a small incision made at the top of your thigh and another incision made near your knee
- The top of the vein will be tied up (via the incision near your thigh) and then the damaged vein will be removed through the lower cut near your knee
- Possibly be able to go home the same day, but might need to stay in hospital overnight
- Be asked to wear compression stockings for a while afterwards to help your blood flow
Blood flow in your legs will not be affected by this treatment because other veins deep within your leg will take over the role of the damaged veins.
Which is the best treatment for varicose veins?
When looking at how to treat varicose veins, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.
There are lots of things that should be taken into account when deciding the best treatment for your varicose veins.
These are things like:
- Your overall health and fitness levels
- Your medical history
- The effect your varicose veins are having on your life
- Whether you’re currently pregnant
- Infection and inflammation around your varicose veins
Self-help for varicose veins
Whilst surgery may be the right varicose vein treatment for you, there are some other measures you can take to help protect the circulation in your legs.
If you’re not experiencing symptoms or complications like we talked about earlier, your doctor might recommend:
- Losing weight to take the pressure off your legs
- Gentle exercise like walking or swimming – this could even help with weight loss!
- Reducing how long you spend standing to reduce pain and discomfort
- Keeping your legs raised when you’re sitting down
- Wearing compression stockings
Again, don’t just take it upon yourself to start doing these without chatting with a doctor first. These things may relieve symptoms or stave off complications for a while, but a medical opinion on that is vital.
The best varicose veins treatment in Hong Kong FAQs
Is walking good for varicose veins?
Walking, and other similar gentle exercises can help prevent varicose veins and possibly relieve some of your symptoms if you already have them. It encourages blood flow and improves muscle strength in your legs. Since standing up and sitting down for long periods are both risk factors for varicose veins, walking is a happy medium between the two.
Am I more likely to develop a DVT if I have varicose veins?
Medical research in the last few years suggests that there may be a link between varicose veins and DVT. It’s not absolute, so you should talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.
Does removing varicose veins improve circulation?
Varicose vein treatment should reduce the pressure in your veins and on your skin and can improve the circulation in your legs. The blood won’t go through the surface veins anymore – it’ll get redirected to veins deeper in your legs.
What are the benefits of having varicose veins removed?
Up to 80% of varicose vein treatment is successful. That means that your symptoms should stop, including pain, itching, and swelling. The physical appearance of varicose veins should also stop, making your legs look more like normal again.
How much does it cost to have varicose veins treated?
The cost of varicose vein treatment will vary based on loads of different things. Sclerotherapy, which is the least invasive treatment, can cost as little as HK$3,000. However, radiofrequency ablation can cost up to $100,000 for two legs. Remember, the earlier you go seek help the easier (& cheaper) it is for doctors to treat.
Am I at high risk of developing varicose veins?
Doctors aren’t completely sure what causes varicose veins, although they do know about risk factors. These include:
– Being pregnant
– Being overweight or obese
– Getting older
– Having a long-term cough
– Being frequently constipated
– Regularly lifting heavy objects
– Standing or sitting for long periods
– Genetics – look at your family’s history
Is it safe to have varicose veins removed?
Like with all surgical procedures, there are risks involved with varicose vein treatments. Your doctor will go through the risks with you so you can make an informed decision.
Some of the potential complications include:
– Blood clots
– Nerve damage
They sound rather scary, right? Ask your doctor to go through the chances of these happening if you’re really worried.
Can I book a varicose vein appointment near me in Hong Kong?
There are doctors in Hong Kong that are experts at treating varicose veins. Try making a booking at Hong Kong Vascular Surgery Centre @ Shop 4, G/F, Fu Lee Commercial Building, 14-20 Pilkem Street, Jordan.
They have a small clean clinic, the wait time is normally short and the cost is lower than what you’ll find in some of the more Centrally located clinics.
It’s easy to think of varicose veins as a cosmetic issue, but they can be painful and lead to serious health problems. The good news is that there are many different treatment options available for this common condition.
If you have any questions or want more information about which option might work best for your unique needs, talk with the healthcare provider who diagnosed your vein problem in the first place. They’re able to help answer all of your questions and provide referrals if needed. We wish you a speedy recovery!
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