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Varicose Veins

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are bulging, dilated veins which occur most often in the leg and thigh. They are very common, and occur in both men and women. The cause is uncertain but they can run in families and are likely related to anything that reduces blood flow through the veins back to the heart, including standing.

Apart from being unsightly, varicose veins can cause symptoms such as itch or throbbing. Longstanding varicose veins can cause serious skin reactions including eczema, swelling, hardening and ulceration. Spider veins or dermal flares are like mini varicose veins occurring in the skin.

Most varicose veins are associated with leaking valves in the main surface veins which causes the veins to be inefficient in carrying blood back to the heart. The valve function of veins is tested using an ultrasound scan that can show the direction of blood flow.


Treatment of varicose veins involves removal or destruction of the varicosities (bulging veins) themselves and removal or destruction of the leaky channels associated with them. At Beacon Vascular we use the most advanced endovenous laser technology to treat varicose veins.

International vascular society guidelines now recommend endovenous laser or radiofrequency as the first line treatment for varicose veins. Laser treatment of varicose veins or endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) involves sealing off the leaking channels by heating them with a laser beam. It involves puncturing the vein with a small needle guided by ultrasound and threading a fine wire into the vein. The laser beam is then carried through the fine wire where it heats the vein on the inside sealing it off. This removes the source of blood filling the varicose veins.

The procedure is usually done using local anaesthetic to numb the skin where the needle is inserted, along with intravenous sedation, with patients often dosing off during the procedure. General anaesthetic can be used if required. The procedure usually takes about an hour and patients walk out in stockings a couple of hours afterwards.