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Ask the expert: Varicose veins

Ask the expert: Varicose veins
We ask Dr Omar Abu-Bakr, a consultant venous surgeon and phlebologist at The Whiteley Clinic, all your questions about varicose veins
Dr Omar Abu-Bakr is a consultant venous surgeon and phlebologist at The Whiteley Clinic.

How did you come to specialise in varicose veins? 

I’ve been treating veins for over 16 years but I’ve been seeing them since I was a child. It’s a family business, let’s say!
Image of a man Dr Omar Abu-Bakr stood with arms folded
Dr Omar Abu-Bakr has been treating veins for over 16 years
My father was a phlebologist, a veins specialist. We love veins! The effect and professional satisfaction of treating varicose veins well can’t be compared with anything. 

What are varicose veins? 

It’s a mechanical problem of the superficial or secondary venous system, which takes blood from the legs to the heart. To do so, we have valves. If they don’t close properly, the blood falls and hits the tissues in the lower calves.
"Up to half of people have hidden varicose veins"
In time, patients’ skin on the lower calves gets inflamed and red. If left, it will go brown and an ulcer will develop. But this, along with bulging veins and achiness, doesn’t mean anything. Up to half of people have hidden varicose veins.  

Who is affected? 

It’s down to genetics. Pregnancy, high heels, sitting or standing too much just worsen an existing problem. If you have a family history of varicose veins or see spider veins, especially on your ankles, you need a doppler ultrasound scan.

When and why should you treat varicose veins? 

As soon as you know you have them! Just because you have no symptoms doesn’t mean it’s not a complicated case.
Varicose veins - what are varicose veins?
You should treat varicose veins as soon as possible
Varicose veins are a serious medical condition. If a vein becomes inflamed and a clot develops, you could have a heart attack or stroke.  

How are they treated? 

Creams, tablets, ointments don’t work and compression stockings just slow down the deterioration. You need to kill those veins. The old-fashioned method of stripping causes new veins to grow, leading to an 85–90 per cent recurrence rate and a high risk of clots.
"New methods have a recurrence rate of only 3 per cent if done well"
New methods, including endovenous laser ablation, endovenous microwave ablation or high-intensity focused ultrasound, depending on the patient’s particular case, have a recurrence rate of only 3 per cent if done well. Choose a venous surgeon who treats a lot of veins. 
For more information visit www.theveinsdoctor.com 
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