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Unsightly painful veins? We can help
Skin Institute
July 28, 2016

Varicose veins and spider veins affect both men and women and tend to be more of a problem as we get older. Younger people, especially women who have been through pregnancy, are also vulnerable to those spindly little lines and the larger twisted blood vessels that stick out from the skin. So what causes them and – more importantly – how do you get rid of them?

Mr-Stephen-Benson-v2At Skin Institute, we’re the country’s leading provider of specialist vein treatments, and according to the head of our expert vein team, surgeon Stephen Benson, varicose veins are not a cosmetic issue. Varicose veins increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and can lead to leg ulceration and other nasty outcomes. Even where they’re less severe, they can be painful, with symptoms varying from mild discomfort to itchiness and dry skin, painful cramping of the calves or feet, puffy ankles, discolouration of the skin, and eczema.

They can also be a big dampener on lifestyle. Varicose veins can cause pain when walking, which can limit your day-to-day life as it makes it harder to get around, and feeling self conscious can impact on your confidence – especially in summer when bare legs are the norm.

“Being on your feet a lot can exacerbate the problem; pregnancy also tends to make it worse,” says Stephen. “But neither of these will usually cause varicose veins – the tendency is inherited. It runs in the family. Another misconception is that you won’t be affected if you are fit – fit people get them too.” In fact, being slim can make the veins easier to spot than where there is a bit of padding around the vein.

Spider veins, while less obvious and less severe in their symptoms, can be caused by underlying varicose veins. During your initial assessment, the team at Skin Institute will use state of the art vein ultrasound mapping to identify the cause and severity of the problem. This will help our team identify the best treatment options for you, with the majority of vein conditions able to be treated without surgery.


Leading-edge care

Established in 1994, the Skin Institute developed a veins team that now treat patients from many of our 18 clinics nationwide, and we have years of experience diagnosing and treating vein conditions, the majority of which are treated without surgery.

“The current published research is very clear that the most appropriate treatments now are not surgical,” Stephen 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%.

Skin Institute offers vein assessments without referral from your GP, and diagnosis is made via a clinical exam and ultrasound. Once diagnosed, the most appropriate treatment will be recommended based on the findings of the ultrasound. The good news is that all of the treatments offered by Skin Institute are covered by all major health insurance companies*.

Spider veins, which look like fine red or blue wiggly lines, are usually treated with sclerotherapy, a process in which a medicine is injected into the vein to collapse it.

Bigger, lumpier veins on the other hand, are treated with modern, non-surgical options such as lasers, now referred to as the gold standard for dealing with varicose veins. Refined by the expert team at Skin Institute over the past decade, procedures like Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) involve cauterising the vein so that it shuts down, and is eventually absorbed by the body. Done under local anaesthetic, EVLA is used along with sclerotherapy for even better results and recovery time is rapid – you are usually able to return to work the next day, or even the same day.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) is another minimally invasive treatment used at Skin Institute for varicose veins. This technique uses radiofrequency energy (instead of laser energy) to heat up and damage the wall inside a vein. This acts to close off the cause of the varicose vein in the leg.

Compression stockings, a specialised type of hosiery designed to help blood flow in the legs, are worn for 4-6 weeks after all vein treatments to assist in your recovery, so winter is a particularly good time have the treatment done.

* if all medical criteria are met according to your policy.

It’s easy to book a veins assessment with one of our vein experts today – and enjoy your summer with confidence.