What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins or varicosities, are veins just under the skin’s surface that become congested due to faulty valves. These valves allow blood to pool in the veins, causing the appearance of gnarly, twisted and enlarged veins. This condition affects up to 25% of females and 20% of males, making it a very common condition that usually manifests on the lower half of the body.
A milder version of varicose veins – spider veins – is even more common and affects anywhere between 30 to 60% of adults. Spider veins are smaller and usually affect the capillaries. They are most often visible on the legs and face. For many people, varicose and spider veins are simply cosmetic concerns, while for others, they may cause symptoms such as aching, swelling and itching. In more serious cases, venous ulcers may develop.
Risk Factors of Varicose Veins:
Although varicose veins are fairly common and can affect anyone, there is a few risk factors that may increase your chances of developing the venous condition. These include:
- a family history of varicose veins
- history of Deep Vein Thrombus (DVT)
- working in an occupation with prolonged standing (such as nurses, lab technicians or retail workers)
- living a sedentary life
- being overweight
- hormonal imbalances associated with menstrual cycles, pregnancy and menopause
- using certain birth control pills
- increasing age
Symptoms of Varicose Veins:
Some of the common symptoms associated with varicose veins include:
- The appearance of dark, engorged and twisted veins visible under the surface of the skin
- Aching, throbbing or cramping in the affected site
- Increased tiredness or fatigue of the legs
- Increased pain after sitting or standing for long periods
- Itchiness around the affected site, also known as varicose eczema
- Heaviness in the legs
- Tingling sensations in the affected site
- Swelling of the ankles
Some less common but serious complications that may arise from varicose veins include:
- Bleeding from the affected vein
- Superficial thrombophlebitis
- Deep Venous Thrombosis.
- Pulmonary Embolisms (PE)
Varicose Veins Treatment Melbourne
There are several ways varicose veins can be remedied. One option is to wear graduated compression stockings, but people often find these to be cumbersome and uncomfortable due to the tight fit. Fortunately, there are several other minimally invasive varicose veins treatment options:
About Dr Ling
Dr Adrian Ling, a leading varicose veins surgeon in Melbourne, graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Medicine and a Bachelor of Surgery in 2001. He then went on to become a Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons in 2010 and a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Vascular Surgery. Adrian is a member of the Senior Medical Staff at the Royal Melbourne Hospital.
With almost two decades of experience treating conditions of the venous and arterial systems, Dr Ling is well-known for his warm and personable approach to his patients. He is open, genuine and empathetic, and ensures his patients are well-informed of their condition and all possible treatment options. Dr Ling has expertise with many different techniques for treating venous and arterial diseases, enabling him to offer his patients the best possible treatment.
Frequently asked questions
Should I have my varicose veins treated?
There are certain medical indications for treating varicose veins:
- skin changes such as disclouration (brown pigmentation), venous eczema (itching), lipodermatosclerosis (fibrosis and hardening of the fat layer under the skin, causing thickened and red skin).
- superficial thrombophlebitis (Clotting and redness and tenderness of the skin veins)
- Symptoms such as aching, throbbing and tenderness of the legs and veins.
Quality of life
People may be embarrassed by the appearance of their legs due to varicose or spider veins. As well as affecting self-esteem, it may restrict their activities and social lives. A vein treatment may result in improved self-esteem and increased self-confidence. This in turn improves one’s quality of life and allows people to feel comfortable about themselves.
What can Dr Ling offer me?
Peace of mind. The advantage of seeing Dr Ling is that you can be assured that you are receiving treatment that is comprehensive and tailored to your needs.
“When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”.
Since Dr Ling performs a very wide range of treatments (his ‘venous tool belt’ has many tools including sclerotherapy, Venaseal Glue, Radiofrequency and Endovenous laser ablation, endovascular stenting and coiling and surgery), he is able to offer you a balanced opinion about what would be best for you. The advantage for you is that you can rest assured that all treatment possibilities would be considered for you.
In addition, as a qualified Vascular and Endovascular Surgeon, Dr Ling has endovascular and surgical skills, plus expertise in diagnosis and treatment of medical vascular health problems (venous and arterial diseases). Therefore, Dr Ling is able to diagnose – as well as treat – other vascular problems. For instance, when Dr Ling sees a patient who has a non-healing ulcer, he is able to diagnose any underlying venous as well as arterial issues and in addition, he has the skills and expertise in treating this.
Furthermore, Dr Ling often performs ‘hybrid’ procedures, that combine different techniques of endovascular and open surgery. This often means he can offer you a comprehensive and appropriate treatment approach that is tailored to your specific requirements. This results in less procedures and ‘returns for further treatment’, with resulting quicker return to normal activities and daily life.
Which treatments does Dr Ling perform?
Dr Ling is qualified and very experienced in various forms of varicose vein treatments, including:
- Venaseal Glue
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Endovenous laser ablation
- Endovascular coil embolisation for pelvic congestion syndrome
Do I need an anaesthetic to have my veins treated?
1) Spider veins – these are treated in the consulting room. No local anaesthetic is required, as the injection of local anaesthetic often causes more pain than the tiny needles that are used to treat the spider veins.
2) Varicose veins treated with radiofrequency ablation or endovenous laser – these can be treated using ‘tumescent anaesthesia’ – you remain awake, but needles are required to inject saline and local anaesthetic around the vein that is being treated, so as to protect the surrounding tissue and muscle from heat damage.
Those with private insurance may elect to have the procedure as an inpatient. Many patients like the idea of having sedation so that when they wake up, the procedure is finished and they did not feel a thing. Mr Ling will discuss these options with you during your consultation.
3) Venaseal Glue. The advantage of this treatment is that there is no need for needles for tumescent anaesthesia. It can be done with you awake and with minimal pain.
Can I use my private insurance for my vein treatment?
Yes. As a specialist surgeon, Mr Ling has admitting rights to private hospitals. This means that for some of the procedures (radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser, endovascular coil embolisation and surgery) the procedure can be rebated by your private insurance because it is done as an inpatient day procedure.
Gap fees apply for specialist varicose vein treatment with Mr Ling. Quotes are provided at an initial consultation. They cannot be provided prior to a consultation, as the recommended treatment will vary depending on the type and complexity of the required intervention. Informed financial consent is always obtained during a pre-operative consultation, so that patients are fully aware of out-of-pocket costs prior to their procedure.
How much does varicose veins treatment cost?
Vein treatment costs vary quite significantly around Australia, and also within Melbourne. Many clinics offer various ‘treatment plans’ that have an initial procedure and then subsequent return visits, each incurring further charges. Some clinics charge a large out of pocket expense for the initial consultation and also for an initial ultrasound. Therefore it is recommended you question what the full cost will be.
The costs vary for the type of procedure and whether it is done as an inpatient using private insurance, versus as an outpatient (where private insurance does not apply).
In determining costs, one should factor in any ‘pre-procedural costs’ such as ultrasounds. Mr Ling uses a specialised vascular-specific ultrasound service that does not charge out-of-pocket costs for pre-procedural scans.
In general, the following is a guide only, for varicose vein treatments with Mr Ling:
– Radiofrequency ablation/endovenous laser/surgery – as a private patient in hospital – an out-of-pocket cost will be payable. This will vary depending on the complexity of the case.
This is different to a health fund ‘excess’, which is the agreement you made with your health fund that you pay to your fund when you use your insurance. Mr Ling’s vein treatments in the private setting are all done as day procedures.
– Venaseal Glue – this is only done as an outpatient in the surgery clinic.
In general, the cost of having your varicose veins treatment (whether it be radiofrequency ablation, laser or Venaseal Glue) with Dr Ling will be around $2000-$3000 for both legs (not each leg). This will vary if more than one system of veins in each leg are involved. Quotes will be provided to you at your consultation for full financial consent.
A single session of sclerotherapy for treatment of spider veins will cost $500, minus a Medicare rebate of approximately $100. Dr Ling aims to treat both spider veins on both legs in a session, but more than one treatment may be required – individual circumstances will vary and this is discussed at your initial consultation.
– Mr Ling offers a diagnostic vascular ultrasound service that is bulk-billed.
– If you are having a procedure that requires ultrasound, there is a procedural ultrasound fee that is included in the total fee.
It is recommended that you are fully informed about costs and ask about these before you commit to treatment. It is worthwhile seeking another opinion if you feel that the costs proposed to you are very high, as they do vary between practitioners.