Don't Let Varicose Veins Ruin Your Summer

16th, July 2014

We talk to Vascular Consultant and General Surgeon Mr Colin Weir about Varicose Veins and what treatments are available.

Mr Weir what exactly are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins that are usually blue or dark purple in colour. They can also be lumpy, bulging or twisted in appearance. They occur when the valves in the veins stop functioning properly.

Who tends to get varicose veins?

Most people think varicose veins are something only women get but I frequently see men who need treatment for varicose veins as well. It tends to run in families but certain things can increase the chances of developing varicose veins such as age, being overweight and as a result of pregnancy but there are many causes and normal healthy people can develop varicose veins at any stage of life.

How common are varicose veins?

Surprisingly common. At least 3 in every 10 adults, more often in women, will be affected by varicose veins during their life. It’s not as common in men. But I often see young men with severe varicose veins in one leg who present at my varicose vein clinic.

I run two weekly clinics for varicose veins and usually see 10 and 15 new patients each week.

What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

Many patients have no symptoms and live their lives with no treatment needed to varicose veins. It is however common to experience: aching, heaviness, cramps, itchiness and tiredness. These symptoms can occur with other conditions so it is important to see an expert who can fully evaluate with examination and ultrasound the relationship between these veins and symptoms.

In more severe cases, we sometimes see: eczema(severe itchy rash), skin discolouration, and very occasionally ulcers in the lower leg.  

What parts of the body are usually affected by Varicose Veins?

It usually affects the leg veins.

Is there any way to prevent varicose veins?

Varicose veins are very difficult to prevent. There is no evidence that exercises or types of support stocking can stop progression of varicose veins. But these things can ease the symptoms.  If the symptoms don’t resolve, contact your GP for advice or arrange an appointment with a vascular surgeon with a specialist interest in varicose veins such as myself.

What types of treatment are available at your clinic?

Common treatments at my clinic include endothermal ablation, the new treatment of choice for those whose main veins are contributing to the issue. The main advantage is that the entire procedure is done through a tiny wound in the leg as opposed to open surgery. It can be done under local anaesthetic and patients can walk straight out afterwards.

It can be a challenge deciding what the right treatment is for some patients. Our alternative first line treatment would be foam sclerotherapy. It uses ultrasound to direct a special foam into the veins. It is a major advance on the old vein injection technique. It’s quick, simple and can be repeated and combined with other treatments so it’s a really useful go-to technique.

Conventional surgery remains a valid treatment and some may still need it. 

Recurrence can remain an issue despite treatment but with new technologies available, many patients experience a vast amount of improvement. They feel the difference physically and can see it for themselves.

Mr Colin Weir sees patients at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, part of the Kingsbridge Healthcare Group.

To book an appointment please contact us on 028 9066 7878 or email Kingsbridge Healthcare Group at

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