Varicose veins are normally seen as bulging veins on the legs, but our research tells us that there’s far more to the condition than meets the eye...
With highly visible ‘bulging’ on the sides of the legs, it’s not difficult to spot varicose veins. And it is precisely the visible nature of the condition that has led generations of medical professionals and patients to focus simply on eradicating the surface signs of the condition without addressing the underlying causes.
Varicose veins are defined as distended tributaries or ‘branches’ of the major veins in the leg, and the condition usually presents as visible bulging veins on the legs when sitting or standing. When the patient is lying down, the bulges tend to recede or disappear.
As noted above, for centuries the medical profession has focused on the bulges themselves as the problem, often mistakenly referring to them as ‘varicose veins’. However, research in recent decades has shown that the veins appearing on the surface only do so because the veins deeper inside the leg have lost their essential valve function, allowing blood to flow the wrong way down the veins. So the traditional kind of treatment – still offered by many practitioners – that is directed solely at the veins seen on the surface, without either investigating or treating the underlying cause, is bound to fail.
The problem is further compounded by the fact that, until recently, medical opinion held that only two principal veins could become ‘varicose veins’. Studies – including research conducted by The Whiteley Clinic – have now shown that the condition can affect a large number of different veins and if a doctor doesn’t have access to the correct diagnosis from a detailed scan in the first place, he or she is unlikely to be able to perform a complete treatment that will minimize the risk of recurrence.
This is the reason why The Whiteley Clinic places such great emphasis on performing comprehensive diagnostic tests and scans – based on a foundation of Duplex Ultrasound Scanning – in advance of the development of any treatment plan. This is a key part of our strict adherence to The Whiteley Protocol® and it ensures that all of our investigations are performed by independent experts who specialise in Duplex Ultrasound examination of the veins.
Compare our approach with the trend in recent years where doctors in ‘cheaper’ varicose vein clinics perform their own scans to try to keep prices down. This is a false economy as it has been shown that quick scans performed by doctors who solely check the two main veins miss at least 30% of the underlying problems causing the varicose veins.
But then, as with so many things in life, cutting corners to reduce costs usually means a reduction in standards.