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Cristian asked...

Hi there, I'm a 30 year old male in pretty good shape - for about 10 years I have had a varracous vein down the back of my left leg. It is noticeable from my hamstring area right down to my calf. I've never been worried about the 'cosmetic' side of things, nor has it ever caused me any problems. However, over the last 12 months (maybe a bit more) I've been struggling with itchiness along the vein - particularly around my calf where it appears to end. Sometimes it's just a little tickle, but sometimes it can be quite bad and my scratching has caused damage to the skin. My question is: Are there any procedures in place that might be able to help and if so - do they carry side effects of their own? I play rugby and am very active so I'm worried about solving one problem but making it worse/creating another. I am however also mindful that it would appear to be getting slowly worse and I would rather act to get it resolved. Many thanks, Cristian

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The Answer

Varicose veins generally appear on the calves of the legs and  may cause aching or throbbing legs.  The veins have a purple colour to them  in the skin and the veins  can bulge and look as if they have lumps within them.  Often  varicose veins do not cause any discomfort and any discomfort felt is not related to the size of the vein, sometimes smaller varicose veins can cause more aching than larger veins.  Other symptoms of varicose veins include the itching that you have described, mild swelling of the ankles and cramping.

A complication of varicose veins is the itching that you describe and people with varicose veins may suffer with varicose eczema.  Please obtain a formal diagnosis of varicose eczema form your general practitioner.  Varicose eczema can be managed with emollients (moisturisers), topical steroids and compression hosiery.

In the vast majority of cases there is no need to surgically remove varicose veins and surgery is often performed for aesthetic reasons rather than for any clinical need to do so.  The National Health Service and most health insurers will only authorise treatment  for removal of varicose veins if there is a clinical need to remove the veins.

In answer to your question, all of following interventional procedures have high success rates and should not create further problems for you.  However, varicose veins can return despite the treatment for them.  It is possible to obtain a sense of efficacy for the procedures and treatments listed below for varicose veins from the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (nice.org).  There are a number of options for the removal or management  of varicose veins.  The correct procedure for  removal of varicose veins depends on a number of factors including size and position of the varicose vein.  Treatment and management options for the varicose vein that you describe might include the  following:-   

Surgery ( stripping and ligation)

Endothermal ablation (includes radiofrequency and endovenous laser treatments).

Answered by the Health at Hand nurses  

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