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[5 min read] Treating varicose veins in primary care with sclerotherapy
Varicose veins are common among Australian women, especially affecting the elderly and pregnant populations. However, the condition is also often seen in men, with up to 30 per cent of Australian men suffering from varicose veins in their lifetime.
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted blood vessels under the skin, most commonly found in the legs and feet. They occur when tiny valves inside the veins become damaged or stop working, causing blood to pool and stretch them out. Blood that collects in varicose veins can leak into smaller blood vessels (capillaries) which enlarge and form spider veins.
Certain populations are more vulnerable to the development of varicose veins, including the elderly, pregnant women, and overweight people. Almost 50 per cent of patients suffering from varicose veins have a family history of the condition. If both parents have it, the patient’s chance of developing the condition is close to 90 per cent.
For many patients, varicose veins are unsightly and can cause embarrassment and self-confidence issues. This is often a driving factor for patients to seek treatment. The global varicose veins treatment devices market size was valued at around USD 1.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of +6.3 per cent between 2019-2025.
Commercially available treatments include sclerotherapy, laser therapy and radiofrequency ablation. Among these, sclerotherapy is preferred as the primary treatment of varicose veins, spiders and reticular veins.¹
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a chemical solution into blood vessels to irritate the vessel walls, making them stick together. This leads to fibrosis of the blood vessel, which then becomes unable to carry blood and starts to shrink, making it less visible under the skin. Eventually the blood vessel disappears altogether.
The treatment takes around 30-45 minutes and may need to be repeated. It can be performed in your consulting room and no anaesthetic is required. The injections cause minimal discomfort for the patient, usually described as feeling like small pin pricks with slight burning.
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¹ According to a recent market research report published in Downey Magazine.