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Aftercare for Varicose Vein Surgery

Why Do You Have Varicose Veins??

You are not alone. According to national statistics, some 60% of the population can expect to suffer from spider or varicose veins at some point in their lives. They do not always appear on the legs either, but can present themselves elsewhere on the body.

So what are they? Spider and varicose veins occur when there is a build-up of pressure in the vein which causes the valves to weaken. This means that blood flow is not as efficient as it should be and will eventually cause the vein to bulge and twist, hence the characteristic blue, squiggly raised veins which characterise Varicose veins.

Why do you have them? Varicose veins are prevalent amongst those who spend much of their time on their feet, such as shop workers or nurses, to name a few. However, there are many reasons why you might have them including a genetic disposition towards them.

Large Varicose veins can be very painful as they cause swelling, heat and itching as well as the ugly appearance. They can also ulcerate which presents a whole host of problems in itself. Although there is quite a lot that can be done to ease the discomfort, nothing can be done about their appearance without some kind of surgical intervention.

So What are They?

Spider and varicose veins occur when there is a build up of pressure in the vein which causes the valves to weaken. This means that blood flow is not as efficient as it should be and will eventually cause the vein to bulge and twist, hence the characteristic blue, squiggly raised veins which characterise varicose veins.They tend to be prevalent amongst those who spend much of their time on their feet, such as shop workers or nurses. However, although standing for long periods of time may worsen the condition, it is uncertain whether this is a factor in their initial cause. There are many reasons why you might develop varicose veins including a genetic disposition towards them.

Large Varicose veins can be very painful as they cause swelling, heat and itching as well as their ugly appearance. They can also ulcerate which presents a whole host of problems in itself. Although there is quite a lot that can be done to ease the discomfort, nothing can be done about their appearance without some kind of surgical intervention.

Post Operative Care

Should you decide to go ahead with surgery there are a number of options available, all of which can be discussed with your GP, but after care is generally the same. The patient is usually discharged from hospital wearing elastic surgical dressings which will have been applied at the end of surgery and compression stockings (in the case of the legs) to further support the area against oedema (fluid build up), pain and to prevent discolouration.

Severe pain is very uncommon but discomfort and a little pain can be expected and over the counter pain killers (ibuprofen and paracetamol) should be sufficient to deal with this. It would be easy to go home from hospital and just rest up for the duration, but this really isn't the best thing to do. After all, it isn't just a case of resting the legs and letting nature take its course, one actually needs to get them working as soon as possible which will speed up the recovery process and promote the repair of the veins. Compression stockings are still a must, but the elastic surgical dressings can be removed after a few days.

Whilst rest periods are encouraged during the recovery time, it is important to ensure that around twice every day for about 15 minutes each time, the legs are raised above the level of the hips. This will improve circulation. Doctors also advise that gentle exercise is taken such as cycling, walking or low impact exercise, e.g. yoga. This will help protect against such complications as deep vein thrombosis. However, more strenuous exercise, such as jogging, should be avoided.

Following surgery, there are always risks even when the patient has returned home. If the site of the incisions, or any other affected area, becomes red, hot, inflamed, swollen or if there is pus, fever or chills then medical assistance must be sought without delay as this indicates an infection.

It is expected that the time taken off work will be between 2 and 8 weeks depending on the speed of recovery. However, the first improvement that should be welcomed is the loss of pain. 95% of patients report this positive effect soon into the recovery phase.

Long Term Care

It usually takes some 2 to 3 months for the legs to return to normal and to minimise the risk of the problem recurring. Again, there are a few self help initiatives with can keep the odds in your favour. Wearing support stockings during the day if your work means that you spend a lot of time on your feet will help, as will continuing your exercise programme. When resting make use of a good footstool to raise the legs and, ultimately, if one really wants a pamper, treat your legs to a good therapeutic massage.

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