Dealing with veins that won’t go away? Thankfully, procedures have now progressed to the stage where patients can feel little or no pain, and treatment can be a quick in and out of the surgery. We speak to two surgeons on all there is to know about varicose veins and spider veins, as well as the various vein treatments available in Singapore.
The Vein Clinic & Surgery
Hear from a doctor:
Dr. John Tan, Consultant Vascular Surgeon
What are the differences between spider and varicose veins?
Varicose veins and spider veins refer to abnormally dilated and swollen veins that usually develop in the legs. Spider veins – also known as thread veins, telengiectasia or broken veins – are the small (1-3 mm in diameter) yet unsightly clusters of pink and purple thread-like veins that lie near the surface of the skin. They are commonly found in the legs but can also appear on the face and other parts of the body. Varicose veins, are the bigger brother, measuring more than 3mm in diameter. They are large, bulgy and tortuous.
What are the common causes of varicose and spider veins?
The causes of varicose veins are not fully understood. The basic problem appears to be that of damaged valves. Normally, the veins transport blood from the leg up to the heart. In order for this to be possible, there are one-way valves to allow the blood to travel in only one direction. In the case of varicose veins, these valves have failed. Without the proper valve function, the blood tends to flow down instead, giving rise to blood pooling in the leg, thus causing the vein to bulge.
Both varicose and spider veins can be caused by prolonged standing at work, multiple pregnancies and situations that cause significant stress on the veins of the legs. These ultimately cause the veins to stretch and the valves to fail. High heels often restrict the calf muscle function and circulation, resulting in spider veins on the legs, while sun exposure is another well-known culprit for spider veins on the face, especially on the nose.
Is treatment necessary?
Varicose veins is a progressive problem; it will not go away without proper treatment. No amount of cream or medication can cure it. Varicose or spider veins can also cause a lot of discomfort and aching in the calves. Many of my patients often complain that their legs tire easily and they suffer from calf cramps at night. They’ll experience an almost instant relief from all these symptoms once the veins are treated.
Those whose have complications caused by bleeding or infection should seek treatment early because these symptoms are likely to recur. Patients who have developed ankle ulcers from varicose veins need to know that treatment is the only way to achieve long-term healing of the ulcers.
The Vascular and General Surgery Centre
Hear from a doctor:
Dr Sujit Singh Gill, Director and Consultant Surgeon
What are the treatments available?
Endovenous ablation for varicose veins. In this technique, a laser is inserted into the diseased vein and heats it from inside, causing it to seal shut. Some bulging varicosities may need removal, too. Newer techniques such as glue ablation or chemical ablation are also available. The procedure is performed under sedation, and an overnight stay at the hospital is not necessary. Patients are able to walk and continue with their daily activities, except exercise. Spider veins, on the other hand, are treated with microsclerotherapy. An irritant drug is injected into the veins, causing them to swell shut. Stubborn spider veins can be treated with laser, too.
How many treatments are required for visible results?
For varicose veins, typically one session is all that is necessary. For spider veins, however, a second or even third session is often necessary to complete the treatment. Furthermore, as spider veins are age-related, touch-ups every couple of years are necessary. Veins that are sealed usually do not re-open. However, new veins can develop with ageing.
How do you prevent vein issues from recurring?
Wear compression stockings whenever you are standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time. Elevate the legs when you’re resting at home. A healthy diet and regular exercise are very important too.
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