Varicose veins are abnormally swollen (dilated) veins that are visible just below the surface of the skin. Smaller veins in the skin itself are sometimes called "thread veins", "spider veins", "broken veins" or "flare veins".
Varicose veins are extremely common and affect both women and men, young and older. In many individuals they cause no symptoms at all and are completely harmless. Often they are a cause of cosmetic embarrassment. Typical symptoms may include heaviness, aching, cramp, itching and swelling. A minority will suffer from more severe symptoms such as phlebitis, varicose eczema and skin discolouration. In some patients varicose skin changes can progress to chronic leg ulcers.
A Duplex scan is essential before treatment options can be discussed. BEWARE CLINICS THAT AVOID THIS STEP!
The majority of people with varicose veins are suitable for simple non-invasive "walk-in, walk-out" treatment. Surgery is rarely required.