Varicose veins 

Treatment options for varicose veins 

Lifestyle changes

Maintain a healthy weight, do regular exercise, stop smoking

  • Prevents existing symptoms getting worse
  • Will not get rid of varicose veins
Compression stockings

Elastic stockings worn to compress the legs

  • Improves circulation
  • Worn all day
  • May make legs feel hot and sweaty
  • Need replacing every three to six months

Known as sclerotherapy, a special chemical is injected, sealing the vein shut

  • Varicose vein should begin to fade after a few weeks
  • Relieves symptoms
  • Approved by NICE
  • Possible repeat treatment before vein fades
  • Vein may reappear
  • Can cause staining on the skin
  • Can cause blood clots, headaches, fainting, and irritation around the injection site
  • In rare cases, complications include strokes 

Affected vein is cut and tied in a procedure known as ligation and stripping. A wire is passed through the vein and it is removed

  • Immediate removal
  • Improves appearance
  • Relieves symptoms
  • One to three weeks' recovery
  • Possible overnight hospital stay
Laser treatment

In endovenous laser treatment, a tiny laser heats the vein from the inside and seals it closed

  • Relieves symptoms
  • Only needs small cuts (incisions)
  • Can cause tightness in legs, pain and bruising
Suction removal

Small incision is made in leg and the affected veins are removed using a suction device. This is called transilluminated powered phlebectomy

  • Immediate results
  • Minimal scarring
  • Relieves symptoms
  • Can cause bruising
  • No long-term results available
Radiofrequency treatment
Innovative treatment

This is an innovative treatment called radiofrequency ablation. The vein is sealed by heat delivered by a probe drawn through the vein

Map of centres offering radiofrequency treatment

  • Minimal discomfort
  • Only needs small cuts (incisions)
  • Improved appearance
  • Relieves symptoms
  • Minimal scarring
  • Not widely available in NHS hospitals


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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

User620067 said on 28 November 2011

Re: Laser & Rad_freq venous ablation treatments – There are no descriptors given to connect these therapies with chronic leg-foot “ulcers” of vascular aetiology secondary to multiple-foci of bilateral incompetent valve function; nor sub-specifically is there any data one notices regarding the possible existence of any category of patients whose chronic venous leg-foot “ulcers” have been made worse, or not helped by such treatment (provided adequate arterial pressure and supply: ABPI>1; <1,3, the latter to suggest ruling out arterial classification) the only presentation is that these therapies be used to treat “varicose veins”, thus one would think a “cosmetic problem” – vis-avis a high-tech way of overcoming intractable “foot & leg ulcers”.

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Page last reviewed: 02/09/2014

Next review due: 02/09/2016