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Varicose veins are a common problem, affecting up to 1 in 3 adults in their lifetime. They are usually a sign of an underlying venous insufficiency.
Thread veins can appear anywhere on the body but are mostly evidenced on the legs and face. They are more common than varicose veins, affecting up to 80% of adults.
Leg ulcers appear as broken skin in the lower leg or feet. We have been successfully treating venous leg ulcers for over 20 years.
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Unfortunately, the NHS has significantly cut the funding for varicose veins treatment meaning that many will have to treat their veins privately. Below we explain the reasons for it.
The surgical stripping of varicose veins used to be one of the most common operations performed on the NHS, because varicose veins are so common. As our population ages and demand on the NHS outstrips the growth in its budget each year, the CCGs who hold the purse strings have had to make difficult decisions around which procedures to fund and which should be defunded. One of the problems with varicose veins is that they are often a cosmetic problem, which the NHS is not set up to resolve.
Although at least 50% of our patients are concerned about the cosmetic appearance of the veins around 60% at least are also genuinely troubled by symptoms.
Now there is a tendency for those in charge of the limited NHS budgets, to think that people with varicose veins which they say are causing pain or other significant symptoms like heaviness, tiredness, itching, burning, maybe exaggerating or making up the symptoms so that they can get treatment to improve the cosmetic appearance. This is a pretty unique disorder in that sense as symptoms due to other conditions, most of which don’t have cosmetic issues, are normally believed and treatment provided without question.
There is something of a postcode lottery in the NHS with some CCGs hardly funding any varicose vein treatment and others being much more lenient. The balance is tipping however and across the whole of the UK it is becoming really difficult to access NHS treatment for varicose veins unless they have already caused significant skin damage or frank ulceration.
This difficulty will be compounded over the next few years by the backlog of operations as a result of COVID. Undoubtedly varicose vein surgery will not be high up on the priority list of hospitals struggling to deal with huge waiting lists for cancer work, hip replacements etc.
So even if your varicose veins are causing bad symptoms, it is unlikely that you will even be put on an NHS waiting list, let alone actually get the treatment.
Veincentre has long recognised the difficulty in accessing NHS treatment and from its inception we were determined to keep prices as reasonable as possible to enable as many patients as possible to afford to have the treatment they need.