Varicose vein treatment

Beat your leg bugbears

Do you have unsightly leg veins that make you shudder at the thought of getting your legs out in summer? H&F Chief sub Emma Lewis got hers checked out…

I have pale Celtic skin, so unluckily for me, any imperfections show up quite obviously. I have a patch of spider veins on the side of my right calf, and more behind my knees. I also had some very noticeable larger veins that I was slightly worried might turn into varicose veins in later years, so I decided to get my legs looked at by an expert and see if I could sort out my mental and physical leg issues!

I went to leading private clinic The Whiteley Clinic in London for a consultation with consultant vascular surgeon Gabriele Bertoni. After clinical staff checked the blood flow in my legs using a machine and did an ultrasound scan to see if there were any veins that could turn into varicose veins, I was told I was a low one out of five on a scale of risk from zero to five.

While this was reassuring, they did say that it’s hard to predict if any veins could turn nasty in the future and explained about a process called sclerotherapy. It’s a treatment where a foam containing oxygen and carbon dioxide is injected into troublesome veins to kill them off. This would get rid of my unsightly bigger veins, which should, in turn, decrease my risk of varicose veins. I decided to go ahead and get this done rather than risking varicose veins in the future. It also hopefully helps kill off the ‘feeder’ veins to my spider veins, which may fade as a result (if not, you can have microsclerotherapy to deal with these a few months later – as the name suggests, this is a similar treatment on a smaller scale).

I lay on a treatment bed in the clinic and had around 10 injections into my lower legs. It was a little painful as the needles went in, with a slight burning sensation just after, but it was all over in 45 minutes. The assistant wrapped compression bandages around my legs straight after the injections to help the foam do its job.

After the procedure, I had to wear thigh-length compression socks, over the bandages, solidly for two weeks. I wasn’t even allowed to take them off to have a shower and I wasn’t allowed to play any sport (it would have been pretty tricky anyway, given how tight the bandages were!). I’d recommend having the treatment done in the winter months as your legs get hot with all those layers on, plus it gives your legs time to heal before leg-bearing season.

It’s now several weeks since the sclerotherapy and the large veins (which feed the spider veins) have gone. I’m happier having my legs on show already and am hoping the spider veins will fade over time, but it’s not an overnight miracle process – you have to allow several months for the effects to become fully apparent.

The Whiteley Clinic (thewhiteleyclinic.co.uk) has branches throughout England.

Foam sclerotherapy costs £846 plus consultation fees.