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Varicose and spider veins: Tips on how to get rid of unsightly veins on your legs

By: Azlinda Said

Varicose veins are common among women worldwide – almost two in five of them suffer from this condition. It’s not something to be proud of, especially if you’re a lover of shorts or mini skirts and dresses.

Now, what causes these veins on your legs to dilate and swell? Prolonged sitting or standing (work hazard, maybe?) is one reason. Staying in one position for too long may stress the valves and prevent blood from flowing in the right direction. Blood then pools and distends the veins, making them bigger.

Pregnancy is another cause factor, especially if you’ve had multiple ones. The pressure of the growing foetus on your pelvic veins can cause spider veins to surface. Those with a family history of varicose veins, or women who love wearing high heels or tight clothing, won’t be spared either.

There are two kinds of enlarged veins – varicose and spider veins. The former are dark blue or purplish in colour and bulge above the skin’s surface. Spider veins, which are nearer to the skin’s surface, are much smaller and resemble red or blue spider webs (hence the name).

Spider veins
Spider veins

 

To avoid developing varicose veins, work out regularly so as to keep the blood flowing throughout the body. Focus on exercises that work your legs, like walking or running.

Try not to cross your legs when sitting down, and wear shoes that are no more than four centimentres high. Also avoid any tight garments that wrap around your gams.

Treating varicose veins
If you already have varicose veins, you can ease any discomfort by wearing compression stockings or raising both legs above your chest to facilitate the blood flow. You can also seek medical help – various minimally-invasive clinical treatments are available to improve the veins’ cosmetic appearance and reduce any aching, swelling, as well as other serious problems like blood clots and ulcers. Here are a few:

Endovenous Laser Treatment
This is the most established treatment and is recommended for those with diseased veins shorter than seven centimetres. It uses ultrasound and involves inserting a small catheter into the damaged vein through a small opening in the skin. A fine laser wire is then used to fire laser pulses through the catheter. It uses only the tip of the wire to burn, closing the skin. The treatment is safe and highly effective – no incision, general anaesthesia or hospitalisation is needed, and the ugly veins can be removed with less pain and less recovery time. Patients are usually back on their feet (pun intended) right after treatment.

Varicose veins
Varicose veins

 

Vnus Closurefast
This is a modification of the Endovenous Laser Treatment. Here, the catheter sends radio frequency heat to the vein wall, which shrinks and seals the vein.

Clarivein
This is the latest form of treatment for varicose veins. Minimally-invasive, it uses a special catheter with a wire tip rotating at high speed to damage the innermost part of the vein. At the same time, the catheter pumps in a sclerosant (a chemical pharmaceutical agent) to close the vein. Since Clarivein uses a unique mechanical-chemical ablation technique to get rid of the damaged veins (meaning, no heat or laser is used), lesser local anesthetic injections are needed for the patient, and there is no risk of heat-induced injury to the surrounding nerves.

Injection sclerotherapy
An extremely fine needle is used to inject a tiny amount of solution into the spider veins. The solution causes the veins to spasm and become small fibrous threads, resulting in permanent closure of the veins.

Other treatments available include Vein Wave therapy to remove spider veins on the face.

 

These procedures are available at The Vein Clinic, 290 Orchard Road, #11-08 Paragon Singapore. Consultant general and vascular surgeon Dr John Tan has years of experience in diagnosing and treating all vein disorders, having performed over a few thousand treatment procedures successfully so far since 2002. To find out more, email enquiry@theveinclinic.com.sg. To book an appointment, call 6245 6666 or 6100 VEIN.

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