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Varicose veins

Varicose veins appear beneath the skin as bluish green lines and can be visibly raised, twisted or bulging. Varicose vein disease can be one of those “silent” health issues that sneak up unnoticed at the start as people don’t associate their symptoms with vein disease.
Varicose veins appear beneath the skin as bluish green lines and can be visibly raised, twisted or bulging. Varicose vein disease can be one of those “silent” health issues that sneak up unnoticed at the start as people don’t associate their symptoms with vein disease.


Varicose veins are caused by either primary or secondary disease. Primary disease, the most common cause of varicose veins, occurs because of an inherited weakness of the one-way valves in the veins of the leg. Secondary causes of varicose veins include deep vein thrombosis (DVT), deep venous obstructions, increase in pressure in deep veins and an increase on the pressure on the veins in the abdomen like during pregnancy.

Common symptoms of varicose veins disease

  • Leg pain/aching – achy or a heavy sensation, especially if it gets worse as the day progresses, or a feeling of tightness in your calves after exercise.
  • Swelling – swelling in your legs, feet and ankles whether it is painful or not.
  • Weak legs – muscle fatigue in the legs.
  • Leg cramps – muscle cramping in your lower legs at rest, especially at night.
  • Tenderness – redness or sensation of warmth in your lower extremities.
  • Sores/rashes – sores or rashes in your lower extremities that is relieved when you elevate your legs.
  • Flaky/itchy skin – the most common symptom. Dry, itchy, skin around your ankle.
  • Pigmentation changes – discolouring in your skin around the ankle, that can appear like freckles in its early stage.
  • Hair loss of the lower legs – more noticeable in men
  • Ulcers – painful sores on the skin that often take more than a month to heal. Normally develop on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle.
  • Restless leg syndrome – uncontrollable urge to keep your legs moving, especially in bed at night.
  • Spider veins – a group of dilated veins (usually red or blue) that appear close to the surface of the skin and look like spider webs or tree branches. Some women experience a worsening of symptoms during menstruation.
  • Warmer summer months, pregnancy or long periods of standing can often lead to a worsening of symptoms.


The majority of varicose veins can now be treated without surgery.

Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS) has been shown to have great success rates on its own for certain types of varicose veins (for some more complicated recurrent varicose veins it can sometimes be your only choice of treatment). UGS tackles tortuous veins and veins that are simply too small for other treatments to address.

Endovenous Ablation (EVA) is a technique that is ultrasound-guided, and a minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins performed under local anaesthetic. It uses radiofrequency to cauterise and close the varicose veins in the legs.

Sclerotherapy is a treatment that works by injecting a special sclerosant solution into the veins, damaging, shrinking, collapsing or dissolving them, which over time results in the disappearance of the veins.

Whilst non-surgical approaches are now the most appropriate treatments for the majority of patients with varicose veins, surgery is still occasionally indicated. The most common varicose vein operation is called ligation and stripping; it involves a small cut in the groin at the top end of the affected vein. This vein is tied off (ligated), to stop blood flowing through it, and then is carefully pulled (stripped) out of the leg through incisions. This procedure requires general anaesthetic and full theatre facilities.

The surgical removal of veins is an option for patients where EVA or UGS are not suitable.

A treatment plan will be proposed based upon the history, examination and the results of a duplex ultrasound map. Patients with varicose veins should always have an ultrasound map before any intervention or treatment. Insurance companies usually cover the cost of this depending on the policy type and where medical necessity criteria apply.

When to seek treatment

Veins and their early symptoms can be uncomfortable, which can limit your everyday activities. Acting early before varicose veins start to bulge and symptoms worsen is worthwhile for your health and wellbeing. We offer vein assessments without referral from your GP.  The diagnosis is made via a Doctor’s assessment and Ultrasound examination done on site at the Skin Institute clinic. The most appropriate treatment will be recommended based on the findings of this assessment.

Thankfully, the majority of vein conditions can now be treated without surgery the current published research clearly identifies the most appropriate treatments now are not surgical,” Mr Stephen Benson, General Surgeon, says. In fact, the long-term effectiveness of non-surgical treatment of veins is over 90%, compared to surgical methods that have a long-term effectiveness of less than 70%.

Next steps for booking a treatment…

  • Phone 0800 754 637

    The team will be able to assist you with a booking at your nearest Skin Institute clinic offering treatment for varicose veins.


Easy ways to pay

At Skin Institute, we accept cash, Eftpos or credit cards. There are also easy ways to spread your payments with QCard or Afterpay.

We are also a Southern Cross Affiliated Provider for procedures where medical necessity and criteria are met.