Tired legs, bulging veins, ulcers and a burning sensation are just some of the symptoms associated with varicose veins, a condition that affects one in two people and is not solely related to age. Many people believe that it is only an aesthetic issue when, in reality, it is a chronic disease that affects a growing number of people in the region each year, making a direct negative impact on people’s quality of life.
Varicose veins and spider veins, are the same thing but they differ in size. One resembles a large worm-shaped structure, while the other is a green or purple network of veins, like a spider web.
They are the result of weak or damaged valves in the veins. The valves become damaged when they do not open to allow blood to leave the veins, causing the blood to back up and making the veins swell.
Both varicose and spider veins cause aching pains and discomfort that can progressively worsen. If left untreated, they can cause various complications such as venous ulcers (sores) and chronic venous insufficiency, when the veins of the legs are unable to pump the required volume of blood back to the heart.
Pregnant women may also develop varicose veins because pregnancy increases the volume of blood in a woman’s body and the growing fetus compresses the vein along its tract, causing increased pressure on the leg veins. All of these factors can cause irreversible damage to vein walls and while varicose veins might reduce after delivery, causing the person to believe that she is cured, the irreversible damage will remain and reappear in the case of a second pregnancy.
Dr Ashkan, specialist vascular surgeon at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery, Dubai says: “It is not uncommon to have varicose and spider veins in one leg, but they are quite different. Spider veins for example are small, thin read or purple blood vessels that can be seen under the skin, whereas varicose veins are stretched out veins where blood vessels have pooled.
While the majority of patients treated for varicose veins are women, men also suffer from venous diseases, even if they’re less likely to seek treatment. However, such factors as heredity, pregnancy, profession and obesity can also contribute.”
When a person has the signs and symptoms of varicose veins, they should attend a specialist to have their veins examined in a complete ultrasound study to eliminate the involvement of large veins and treat the problem from its roots, to avoid any further complication from venous insufficiency.
The visual part of the condition is just as important as the medical one, since having varicose veins on the leg can cause people to become self-conscious.
Help is at hand though, as a new technique called ClaCS (Cryo laser and Cryo Sclerotherapy) promises to put an end to dilated veins and is now being offered exclusively at Burjeel Hospital for Advanced Surgery’s vascular surgery department – the first of its kind in the Middle East.
ClaCS is the new ally in the fight against varicose veins and spider veins that combines laser, sclerotherapy and cold air jets into the skin using sophisticated state-of-the-art devices.
Treatment with ClaCS begins by applying a device that projects a picture of the sophisticated network of veins under the skin to determine the feeder veins.
Next comes skin cooling to a temperature of up to -20 °C, which helps to reduce pain at the site of application. Then a specialist uses a laser that emits pulses of light that pass through the superficial layers of the skin to reach the blood vessels, which is followed by injection of medication in the area. This causes the targeted veins to close, harden and disintegrate without damaging skin tissue.
The minimally invasive treatment does not require anesthesia and is relatively quick compared with other treatments.
“The big advantage is that patients don’t require long use of bandages or supporting stockings as other previously known cosmetic treatments do. ClaCS delivers quick and effective results and is relatively painless. But it is by no means a complete solution to varicose veins,” explains Dr Ashkan.
“The overarching aim is to eliminate varicose veins, but the risk of recurrence depends on the patient’s hereditaty factors and way of life. The risk increases if the patient does not take various health precautions, such as exercising regularly, refraining from smoking and monitoring their weight.”