Varicose veins are distended veins on the leg, which not only look unsightly but may also harbour real health problems.
Varicose veins often result from a genetic predisposition. Lack of exercise or pregnancy may, however, aggravate the onset of varicose veins by causing distension of the veins. The valves within these swollen veins, which enable the correct flow of blood, fail to close properly; blood in the venous system then becomes subject to gravity and no longer flows as it should to the heart but back into the legs. This causes swelling, congestion and water retention, leading to cramping in the calves and the symptom of “restless legs”. In old age, varicose veins can cause tissue damage leading ultimately to leg ulcers. In a worst-case scenario, they can even cause thrombosis.
There are various treatments for varicose veins. It is important in every case that affected individuals also address the issue of preventing varicose veins by ensuring they have a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, a weight-controlled and balanced diet as well as suitable clothing and optimal seating positions. Various therapies can be used, depending on the extent of the varicose veins: compression, sclerotherapy, medication or surgery. Choice of the correct treatment is based on careful assessment and a physical examination by a vein specialist. Should an operation be recommended, you will be referred to one of our surgeons.
Varicose vein surgery
The procedure will be performed as an inpatient operation involving a stay of one or two nights at the Pyramid Clinic. After consultation with the anaesthetist, you will be administered a regional anaesthetic, usually in the form of spinal anaesthesia (peridural). You will be able to get out of bed within a few hours of the operation. In fact it is quite important that you maintain regular exercise in the post-operative period. This helps reduce any swelling caused by the operation and is generally welcomed by most patients. You will also need to wear special compression stockings for six weeks following surgery.
Normally, the pain experienced after varicose vein surgery is described as moderate. You will be given pain relief and anti-inflammatory gel, which you can apply to any hard or bruised areas along the thigh and calves. Regular walks and lying with your legs raised helps relieve the symptoms. After about twelve days you should be more or less pain free. It is normal to experience a temporary feeling of numbness in the affected skin after this kind of surgery. This is sometimes caused by stretching of superficial nerves. Recovery of these nerves may take various lengths of time (from a few weeks to months). In extremely rare cases, it can lead to a lasting loss of sensation in localised areas. Even several weeks after the operation, long periods of sitting and standing are to be avoided. When sitting down, your legs should always be raised and you should also adopt a similar position when lying down (e.g. by raising the foot of the bed or placing a pillow under your legs). For prolonged periods in a seated position, it is also necessary to resume wearing compression stockings (e.g. in aircraft or on a long car trip).
Facts and figures
|Length of operation:||2 to 3 hours|
|Anaesthetic:||General or local anaesthetic|
|Length of stay at the clinic:|| 2 to 3 days|
|Post-operative treatment: ||Bandage for 5 to 7 days, compression stockings for several weeks|
|Ready to socialise:||After 1 week|
|Back to school or work:||After 2 to 3 weeks|
|Sport:||Resume after 4 weeks|
|Costs:||Cost coverage must be requested from your health insurance company|