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Varicose Veins

Modern treatment of varicose veins without surgery uses Endovenous Laser and Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy.

It is no longer necessary to treat varicose veins with surgery.  The latest walk in/walk out, non surgical techniques of Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) and Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS) have been available at Palm Vein Clinic for over ten years.  We are able to treat almost all varicose veins, regardless of size, non surgically. This means you can generally return to work the same day but you will need to avoid heavy lifting or straining for 2-3 weeks.

Dr John Barrett introduced Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy to New Zealand in 1998 and was one of the first exponents of Endovenous Laser Ablation for varicose vein treatments in New Zealand.  Dr Barrett is Chairman and a Foundation Fellow of the Australasian College of Phlebology.  Dr Barrett works with a team of five phlebologists (Dr Sam Dunn, Dr Robyn Baker, Dr Rowan Stephens and Dr Sarah Hart) at Palm Clinic which is the busiest Vein Clinic in New Zealand.  Palm Clinic has performed over 3000 laser treatments for varicose veins and more than ten thousand ultrasound guided sclerotherapy procedures.

Laser is now the most popular treatment for varicose veins in the world.  It has recently been recommended as the preferred treatment by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) in the UK.  UGS is the second most recommended treatment by NICE with vein surgery third on the NICE list.

Southern Cross Health Society

Palm Clinic is an affiliated provider to Southern Cross for varicose veins. Medical necessity criteria apply.

Palm Clinic is also a "preferred provider" for NIB (formerly Tower).  For Southern Cross and NIB you do not need prior approval. Palm Clinic is able to authorise this on-line if you bring your member number.

Treatments are generally covered by other medical insurers such as Sovereign, Unimed and others when meeting 'medical necessity criteria'.

The treatment process is to have an initial consultation with one of Palm Clinics phlebologists (vein doctors). He/she will assess your varicose veins and recommend whether treatment is required or not. Treatment options include: wearing compression hosiery; or a definitive treatment such as laser and/or injection or in a few cases, surgery. An ultrasound of your veins will be performed at Palm Clinic by a vascular sonographer and a "map" of your veins will be created.  This will be assessed by your phlebologist and a treatment plan, optimised for you, will be formulated.  You will then be booked in for the relevant treatment session or sessions.  A folder will be given to you with copies of the treatment plan, risks, side effects, requirements for post treatment care and a quote.  We have this information in French and Mandarin if required.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are large dilated blood vessels that have a bluish colour and protrude above the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are commonly associated with symptoms such as aching, throbbing, tired legs, varicose leg ulcers, cramp, heavy legs, burning, itching, varicose eczema, leg swelling and restless legs.

Varicose veins occur in saphenous veins or their tributaries which lie just under the skin in the fat space. Saphenous veins in normal legs carry blood from the legs back to the heart and lungs but when these veins become dilated and varicosed the blood falls down the leg because the non return valves in the saphenous veins no longer work.

Varicose Veins Diagram

The blood is then carried up the deep veins of the leg which lie within muscle but some of this blood falls down the varicose vein creating a useless loop of circulation. Treatment closes the useless varicose vein which allows blood to travel back to the heart and lungs again via the normal deep veins.

What causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins can occur...

  • As a hereditary medical vein condition - varicose veins tend to run in families.
  • In both men and women, but are more frequent in women. Oestrogen may play a role in varicose vein development because both puberty and pregnancy often seem to start varicose veins.
  • During pregnancy the enlarged uterus can restrict blood flow out of the legs putting pressure on the veins, and cause varicose veins.
  • As a result of occupations with prolonged standing, varicose veins can occur.
  • As we get older, varicose veins are more prevalent
  • Obesity is a risk factor for varicose veins

What are the symptoms?

Varicose veins can cause heavy tired legs, throbbing or aching. This is more likely after prolonged sitting or standing and symptoms are usually worse at the end of the day. Other symptoms can include ankle swelling, restlessness in the legs, cramp, itching, or a red rash (‘varicose eczema’) on the skin of the legs. Sometimes you will notice a dark pigment forming on the lower legs or a congested purple appearance of the feet at the end of the day. Varicose ulcers can appear as a direct result of your varicose veins. If you’ve noticed any of these symptoms, talk to your GP, or simply make an appointment to see one of our vein doctors (phlebologists) at Palm Clinic.

Do all varicose veins require treatment?

Although varicose veins are not a life-threatening condition, most people with symptoms (such as aching) notice an increased quality of life after vein treatment. Or if you are symptom-free but dislike the appearance of the veins, you may choose treatment for cosmetic reasons.

For more serious complications such as varicose eczema or varicose ulcers it would be wise to have the varicose veins treated in order to improve the eczema or ulcers.

If you have ankle swelling caused by varicose veins it is sensible to treat the varicose veins to reduce the oedema.

Which treatment is right for me?

The two main treatments are Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy (UGS), and Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA). You can find out more about these two procedures above – but generally speaking, UGS tends to be used for smaller, twisted veins; while EVLA is used for larger, straighter veins. Surgery is another option but not offered at Palm Clinic, although non-surgical treatments are appropriate for most people.

As the first step in your varicose vein treatment, we will take a vein map of your leg using ultrasound. This will help us plan the most effective and safest treatment for you.

Will I need time off work?

One of the advantages of non-surgical treatment is that there’s no ‘down time’, other than the actual treatment session. You can get back to your normal routine virtually straight away. There are some exceptions – such as sport, heavy lifting and flying. You’ll be given easy-to-follow instructions for your post-treatment care. Those whose work involves heavy lifting (>10Kg) will need to be on light duties for 3 weeks.

What will it cost?

We will give you a cost estimate at the initial consultation depending on the extent of the problem and what treatment will be best for you. Check with your medical insurance provider, to see if they will cover the cost. (Palm Clinic is an affiliated Provider to Southern Cross Healthcare). If you don’t have health insurance, or your treatment is not medically necessary, you may wish to pay for the treatment yourself.

Do I need a referral from my GP?

It’s a good idea to discuss any future treatment with your GP. However you do not need a referral to visit Palm Clinic – you can make an appointment directly with us. We will always write to your GP advising our management recommendations.

What investigations are needed?

After the initial consultation where your Palm Clinic vein physician will examine your varicose veins you will then proceed to an ultrasound mapping of your deep and superficial veins which will provide an accurate diagnosis and help to define the best technique for your treatment.

Endorsement

"I am sure most people approach vericose vein treatment with some trepidation - I certainly did!. Well my experience with Palm Clinic means that you needn't worry. Right from the first visit I was impressed with the complete service at Palm Clinic, and working in the health industry I have high expectations. You can't miss the investment in the latest equipment and hi-tech facilities but it is the people that stand out.

Clearly the team are complete professionals however it is their personable, engaging nature which made trips to Palm Clinic a pleasure which was unexpected. You can tell the team get on well and enjoy their job, and the interaction with their clients - to me a sign of a well oiled team.

I personally appreciated their very attentive approach - there was a lot of follow up to make sure that my treatment was completed as expected. I felt in safe hands and recommend them without hesitation. Thanks team - at every level the service was superb."

Glenn.