Odyssey Vein Clinic has been established to provide specialised non-surgical treatment for unsightly spider veins of the legs including varicose vein removal. We also offer a number of required cosmetic injectables and laser treatment for various skin conditions, including varicose veins.
Our team takes pride in providing a warm and friendly environment, for all our valued patients who need help dealing with varicose veins and spider veins.
Varicose veins are large, swollen veins that often appear on the legs and feet. Varicose veins happen when the valves in the veins do not work properly, so the blood does not flow effectively back up to the heart. They’re quite visible, seemingly protruding in the skin.
The veins have one-way valves so that the blood can travel in only one direction. If the walls of the vein become stretched and less flexible (elastic), the valves will weaken. A weakened valve can allow blood to leak backward and eventually flow in the opposite direction. When this occurs, blood can accumulate in the vein(s), which then become enlarged and swelling appears, leading to varicose veins and unsightly spider veins.
A number of factors seem to increase the likelihood of developing varicose veins and you must pay attention to every one of them:
Genetics – there is a tendency for varicose veins to run in families
Gender – it is more common for women to develop varicose veins than men, probably for hormonal reasons
Age – probably because of wear and tear on valves with obesity
Some occupations – prolonged standing at work appears to be one of the risks for developing varicose veins.
Pregnancy – women are more at risks of developing varicose veins during pregnancy than any other time in their life. This is due to hormonal factors, increased blood volume, constant standing, and pressure on pelvic veins.
Symptoms from varicose veins vary widely. The majority of individuals who use treatment for their varicose veins (especially women) report that they dislike the unattractive appearance of the abnormal veins. Varicose veins can also cause
Aching & heaviness – this is often worse during the heat and prolonged standing.
Leg cramps and restless legs syndrome – although the cause of these symptoms is not understood they appear to be more common and worse in individuals with varicose veins, and they usually require more than one treatment. Thus, you have to address this immediately to prevent further complications.
Spider veins – these smaller spider veins are common to originate around larger varicose veins and will also feel achy and heavy during the heat.
Skin changes – the skin can become shiny or discoloured and is at risks of developing blood clots when varicose veins have been present for many years.
Complications of varicose veins, particularly when they are long standing can include
Thrombophlebitis – clotting of the abnormal veins, which causes them to become painful and reddened, which can pose further complications.
Blood clots and bleeding – If the veins are traumatised, bleeding could develop.
Varicose eczema – a dry achy and itchy rash usually occurring in the lower leg. It is a common sign that the blood circulation to the skin has been long affected by the varicose veins. To stop it from aggravating, address it immediately by seeking professional treatment.
Varicose ulcer – a sore in the lower leg that is often caused by minor trauma is at risks for further complications. These are painful and can take long periods to heal, even with advanced treatments. The cause is related to impaired blood circulation and inadequate skin healing.
It is advisable to seek some sort of safe vein treatments even to the small varicose veins if the last two conditions are present as they can affect one’s health.
Minimally invasive treatment solutions for removal of varicose veins have advanced significantly in the last twenty years. Prior to this the only solution available for varicose veins was surgery – this involves a general anaesthetic, hospital stays and significant downtime.
The minimally invasive ultrasound guided solution called sclerotherapy (UGS) was first developed to get rid of varicose veins about 25 years ago. Dr Emma Nolan was one of the first doctors in Australia to be trained in the use of this technique in 2000 to remove varicose veins. This effective technique involves an initial duplex ultrasound scan (ultrasound guidance) to evaluate the varicose veins in the leg that need to be treated – abnormal veins that are not visible externally may also need to be treated as part of the varicose veins system. Dr Nolan performs the scan on the same day just prior to treatment (this is often time saving as it requires no outside referrals, costs or follow up appointment. People report progress to the doctor in as little as a couple of days). The varicose veins are then injected via the skin, accurately, with a small amount of a substance called a sclerosant under ultrasound guidance. The sclerosant gets rid of the cells that line the vein wall under the skin, and the varicose veins shrink and, subsequently, the body converts the vein to scar tissue. After the varicose veins have been injected a compression stocking is applied to the treated leg and the patient needs to walk for 30 mins immediately afterwards and allow the new veins to recuperate. So if you want to regain your confidence, call us now and book an appointment!
There are a number of advantages to treating varicose veins with UGS treatment options from qualified specialists. There is no need for hospitalisation or types of anaesthetic from a doctor – the treatment that factors in is associated with minimal discomfort, there are no surgical wounds on the skin, and the recipient is fine to drive and is free to go back to work and perform normal activities in life immediately after treatment of the varicose veins.
It is important that the compression stocking for varicose veins discussed earlier is worn for two weeks, which helps in preventing discomfort. The recipient needs to be encouraged by the doctors as well to walk daily, for new veins to recuperate. There is generally minimal body discomfort afterwards. A check up appointment is usually organised by the doctor’s team for about three weeks post treatment to ensure that the treated varicose veins have closed down. The varicose veins gradually shrink and disappear as the body automatically resorbs the prominent veins and converts them to scar tissue. No visible marks will remain on the skin, giving your confidence back!
There have been some changes to the way varicose vein treatment options are covered by Medicare in the last few years. The rebates for surgery for treating varicose veins have decreased meaning that there is a preference for non-surgical treatment for varicose veins. This is an important piece of information for anyone who plan on using their insurance.
Private Health cover and vein treatment
Varicose vein treatments inside the private sector are moving away from traditional surgery. Effective non-surgical techniques for varicose veins have a number of advantages including less complications, no downtime or time off work. Medicare funding for non-surgical methods of treating varicose veins is minimal and does not cover the realistic costs of treatment. This usually means you will have increased out of pocket costs for their treatment for varicose veins. It’s also discussed that the majority (not all) have varicose vein treatment for cosmetic reasons and, as with most cosmetic procedures, this should not be covered by Medicare.
Public hospital waiting lists
Because of decreased funding to treat varicose veins surgically, the major public hospitals throughout Australia are usually only accepting most people for varicose vein treatment if there are significant medical complications from their varicose veins (such as varicose ulcers). At the present, cosmetic treatment for varicose veins is not considered a reason to go inside a public hospital waiting list for surgery.
Ultrasound guided sclerotherapy treatment
The cost for ultrasound guided sclerotherapy for varicose veins is mostly out of pocket as there is only a small Medicare rebate available ($95 -$210 depending on the individual Medicare safety net). So, you should plan accordingly.
Private health cover plan will often cover the cost of the stockings ($60 each) as part of their funds ‘extras’ cover.
Spider Vein treatment
The majority of the cost of spider vein treatment of the legs is out of pocket. This is considered a cosmetic procedure, only, and is usually not covered by Medicare in most cases. When large blue prominent veins of the legs are treated a rebate of about $95 may be applicable.
Our Practice Manager will advise you of all costs prior to the treatment procedure. All questions are welcome, so call us now for more information.
Immediately after your safe duplex ultrasound scan guided sclerotherapy treatment procedure, a compression stocking will be applied to the treated leg, follow up appointments will be organised by your specialists, and you will be asked to walk for 30 minutes. After your walk you are free to drive and go back to work or usual activities. The only activities that are discouraged are long (overseas) flights and very heavy gym workouts (can be resumed at 2 weeks). Low impact exercise such as walking, swimming, yoga, pilates, etc. are all fine.
The procedure requires that the compression stocking must be worn for 2 weeks, preventing the risks of any discomfort. Keep it on in the shower and wash with body wash or shampoo. Towel dry the stocking – it usually dries quite quickly in the warmer months, but a hairdryer can help if necessary. The stocking can be taken off at night, whilst in bed, in the second week. You can remove the stocking, yourself, at 2 weeks.
Walking daily or at least 30 minutes is encouraged post treatment in all cases, including maintaining a healthy weight. It is effective in circulating blood through the deep veins in the leg and is also helpful in managing mild discomfort from the treatment, if present. If discomfort is not relieved by walking a mild painkiller such as an anti-inflammatory (Voltaren, Nurofen, Naprosyn, Brufen, etc.) or Paracetamol can be taken. Most patients do not require any medication post treatment, aside from being advised to maintain a healthy weight. If there are any concerns post treatment or for any other information, please contact Kerryn on 7225 7808/0403 965 548 for further advice. When the stocking is removed the treated varicose veins or spider veins will be much flatter, but they will be lumpy and have a light brown appearance, initially. This is a perfectly normal part of the healing process and will fade, completely, over time.
Possible complications or problem are, generally, minor and can include pain and migraine – immediately after the treatment procedure, usually managed with paracetamol or usual anti migraine meds, tenderness of the treated vein, phlebitis – an inflammatory condition that causes redness, mild pain, and tenderness of the treated vein. It is not dangerous but needs attention, and you can easily manage it by applying the stocking, walking for 30 minutes, and anti inflammatories as needed and some swelling of the ankle – this will usually settle spontaneously – no injection needed. You may ask questions should you have any.
More serious cases of complications are exceedingly rare and can include allergic reaction to the sclerosant – this is immediate and treated with adrenaline injection or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a clot in the deeper veins of the legs. DVT is extremely rare in healthy, mobile patients having UGS. It is characterised by a swollen painful calf with the pain not being relieved by an anti-inflammatory tablet and a 30 min walk. If unsure of your symptoms or if there’s a development of major swelling, please contact our practice Manager, Kerryn to get more information. We’ll continue helping you with the recovery process.
Over 20 years experience treating leg veins with over 8,000 procedures successfully completed.
Dr. Nolan graduated with a degree in Medicine from Adelaide University in 1989. She spent a number of years in General Practice before developing an interest in Phlebology (non – surgical vein treatment) and Cosmetic Medicine.
Dr. Nolan underwent training in Phlebology and Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy in 1999. In fact, she has performed several thousand procedures already on both varicose and spider veins of the legs, and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Phlebology.
Dr. Nolan also has many years experience with anti-wrinkle injection, and dermal fillers.