For many of us, having varicose veins can be an unsightly and embarrassing problem, and for others it can even lead to complications and pain. When you speak to your doctor about your varicose veins there is a good chance that you will have a long wait to be seen by a specialist and even longer if you want the veins removed or diminished. If you have health insurance, you may be able to use it to have your varicose veins treated more quickly.
Varicose veins occur when blood doesn’t flow properly from the superficial veins in the outer parts of your legs to the main veins deep in your legs. This leads to blood pooling in the area and thickened veins which can bulge on the surface of the skin. Usually there is little pain involved, but sometimes the area can be warm or a throbbing pain can be experienced. Three in 10 people will experience varicose veins in their lifetime and women are more commonly affected.
There are several types of varicose veins treatment options and each will depend on the type of vein it is, the severity and the outcome required. Most people simply want the vein removed so that the appearance of their skin is improved.
Varicose veins surgery
This will remove the superficial veins via the use of a wire, which is passed into the vein while you are under general anaesthetic.
This involves the injection of a chemical into the vein which causes it to close. It can be done under local anaesthetic and you will need to wear compression stockings for a while afterwards.
Endovenous laser treatment
A laser is passed inside your vein and heats the inside of it. This will cause the vein to close; this requires a general anaesthetic. Sometimes external laser therapy can be used on small varicose veins.
Here, a high frequency electrical current is placed close to the wall of the vein causing it to close. Again, you will need to be asleep for this procedure.
A fine tube is passed into the vein, the end of which is heated which seals the wall of the vein. This is usually performed when you are asleep. This treatment has been approved by NICE and is often accepted by insurance companies, but is not yet available on the NHS.
While the NHS does offer most of these treatments, it may difficult to get them done if the veins cause you no symptoms other than the way they look. You could expect to pay anything up to £3,500 if you have varicose veins on both legs, without the help of an insurance policy.
While it is true that most insurance policies will not pay out for purely cosmetic procedures, the fact that varicose veins can cause some discomfort may mean you will be able to take advantage of your policy.
Having varicose veins doesn’t have to mean a future of wearing trousers and thick tights; you can get your life and your legs back.