Vessels that carry blood from the heart to the legs (veins carry blood back to the heart).

Axial Vein
The main vein that feeds varicose veins which can include (Great Saphenous Vein, Small Saphenous Vein, or the Anterior Accessory Saphenous Vein).

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A side effect of common vein treatments that tends to abate after a week or two.

A very small blood vessel that feeds the vessels between the arteries and veins.

This is a long, thin tube used during vein procedures, to allow doctors to move within the vein and close it by delivering laser energy or radiofrequency energy.

Coagulated blood

Compression Therapy
A non-surgical therapy crucial in recovery after most veins treatments.
This therapy involves compression stockings with varying degrees of pressure to improve blood flow and reduce symptoms caused by venous insufficiency. Compression stockings should be worn continuously where possible for 7 days after treatment for optimal results.

Compression stockings
Medical hosiery that gives a specific amount of support at the ankles (measured in millimetres of mercury or mmHg) to help relieve the symptoms of venous reflux. Also used as therapy after vein treatments to improve outcomes.

Deep veins
Veins that lie within the muscles of the leg. 

They carry 95% of the blood back to the heart (superficial veins carry 2%).

Deep Vein System 

This is one of the body’s two vein systems. 

The deep system, runs through the muscles of the thigh and calf and carries virtually all of the blood out of the leg back to the heart. 

It never becomes varicosed. 

The superficial system lies between the muscles and the skin and carry less than 2% of the blood out of the leg and back to the heart. 

These veins can be removed or blocked off without any compromise to blood flow from the legs.

Duplex scan
Ultrasound system that uses colour to indicate the direction of blood flow. 

This is particularly helpful when looking at and evaluating both the deep and superficial venous systems. 

A duplex scan is essential in detecting flow in the wrong direction (reflux)

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
Thrombus or blood clot, within a deep vein. 

It can also be caused due to genetic reasons or other factors such as travel.

Flights longer than 4 hours are considered “long haul” and the rate of DVT for flights greater than 4 hours is 1 in 5500. 

However, in 5 prospective studies there is a much higher incidence of DVT and pulmonary embolus, where a blood clot travels to the lungs and can be life-threatening. 

These studies found that there was an incidence of 1 in 200 VTEs when travel time went past 8 hours. 

DVT is also an uncommon complication in RF treatments (1 in 500) and very uncommon for sclerotherapy (1 in 2000).

When DVT occurs after treatment, the clot occurs in the deep venous system, not in the treated varicose vein. 

To avoid DVT after treatment, it’s important to wear compression stockings exactly as directed and that regular daily walking (30 minutes at a time) is maintained. 

Adjective meaning “inside a vein”.  May relate to Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) or Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation. 

Refers to the inside of blood vessels

Endovenous Laser Therapy (or sometimes called EVL). This refers to the use of a laser to close a varicose vein or veins that are refluxing

Foam sclerotherapy
The use of a chemical foam injected into varicose veins that causes them to close up. This procedure is performed under guided ultrasound. 

After foam is injected, it removes the lining of the vein, causing it to react by healing and withering. It disperses back into a liquid after a few minutes.

Glue Ablation 

A technique where glue is used in conjunction with sclerotherapy to close veins. This glue is used for varicose veins fed by a large, relatively straight superficial vein. The glue is used on the feeding vein. 

The varicose veins are than closed by injections done in the same procedure.  

A bruise or collection of blood in the skin.

Incompetent Vessel
Vein that allows blood to fall back under the effect of gravity. Blood flow is in the wrong direction (i.e., from the heart to the feet). 

Incompetence is caused by unhealthy valves in the veins, often referred to as incompetent valves.

Many people over the age of 50 will have some degree of incompetent leg veins. 

Iron Supplements 

At AVC, we generally advise patients to stop taking these supplements two weeks before treatment. 

Blood thinners do not need to be stopped and we do not generally feel it is warranted to stop the oral contraceptive pill or HRT unless there are high risk factors – so please discuss with your AVC doctor. 

Job related vein disease 

Varicose veins are more common in occupations where people “stand” or “sit” in the same position, with a general lack of movement. 

This can include retail workers, hairdressers, nurses, doctors and tradesman. 

Sitting jobs at a computer for instance also cause issues. 

Either standing or sitting in one position for a long time means the heart must work harder to pump blood to the heart. 

KTP laser 

A treatment commonly used in vein therapy for the management of facial spider veins. 

Surgical closure of a vessel with sutures or staples.

Interior channel of a blood vessel


This is a side effect from common veins treatment that has a 1 in 20 incidence and causes an extremely fine network of spider veins on the outer and inner thigh. 

It usually resolves spontaneously or less commonly requires further treatment. 

The removal of varicose veins through a tiny cut or puncture in the skin.

This is the regrowth of veins after surgery. Neovascularisation is not stimulated by endovenous treatments such as sclerotherapy or Endovenous Laser. 

Swelling that is caused by fluid and frequently occurs in the ankles and legs of people who have varicose veins.

The closing of a vessel.


This is a side effect of common vein treatments with an incidence of about 3 in 100 vein treatments. 

It causes tender, red, swollen areas along the line of treated veins, due to trapped blood. 

It is generally treated with anti-inflammatory medication and improves with walking and compression. 

Most superficial phlebitis resolves.  


The incidence of pigmentation is about 1 in 10 and this causes brown marks on or near treated vein areas. 

It’s common when treating spider veins but generally disappears completely within 3 to 12 months, while rare persistent cases can be treated with topical laser. 

Numbness or tingling often associated with damage to sensory nerves.

Perforator veins
These are the veins connecting the deep and superficial veins. 

The deep veins lie within the muscles and superficial veins lie under the skin, within the subcutaneous fat. 

The muscles are enveloped by a tough fibrous layer called fascia. 

The perforator veins pass through or “perforate” the fascia.

The science of vein function and the treatment of vein conditions

A vein disease expert

Quality of Life 

A patient-reported questionnaire, that evaluates the details of chronic venous disease severity. It is an important outcome measure after vein treatments. 

Radiofrequency Ablation
Replacing the older style surgical “stripping’, this minimally invasive technique closes the great or small saphenous vein using thermal energy delivered via a fine catheter. 

Abnormal backflow or pooling of blood in the veins of the legs caused by unhealthy valves. 

Reflux contributes to the development of varicose veins.

Reticular Veins 

Slightly larger than spider veins, further under the skin and the veins that feed spider veins.

Saphenous Vein (Great Saphenous Vein; Small Saphenous Vein)
The Great Saphenous Vein (GSV) is a large vein running from the ankle to the groin.

The small saphenous vein (SSV) runs up the back of the leg from the ankle to the knee. 

They are superficial veins and carry small amounts of blood to the deep veins. Treating or blocking off these veins will not impact circulation as the body has two veins systems.

This superficial system only carries about 2% of the blood from the leg to the heart.

The injection of unhealthy veins with a chemical medication. 

Sclerotherapy can be used for early varicose veins and spider veins (telangiectasia) as well as recurrent varicose veins. 

The lining of the vein is painlessly removed and the vein closes, withers and shrinks. 

Ultrasound guides the procedure for accuracy.

Spider veins
Also known as (telangiectasia) or “thread veins”.

These are small 1-2mm veins in the skin that are often purple or blue, and considered a cosmetic and unsightly nuisance. 

Old style varicose vein operation that involved major hospital and surgery where the great or small saphenous vein is removed by pulling it out from under the skin. 

The procedure involved a slow recovery time, was painful and caused re-growth of vein. Stripping is generally no longer performed. 

Superficial veins
Veins that lie just beneath the skin. 

As they are not supported in the same way as the deep veins, their walls can weaken and are more likely to varicose than deep veins. 

Thread veins
Very fine blood vessels near the surface of the skin, which appear as twisted, tiny purple lines.

Formation or presence of a thrombus, or clot, within a blood vessel.

Blood clot that may block a blood vessel.

Ulcer (venous)
A serious and chronic complication of varicose veins where a lesion on the skin is caused by tissue loss (in the presence of or caused by varicose veins). 

These are folds in the lining of the leg veins, that open and close to prevent blood from flowing backwards. These valves are “one way” so when you stand up, the valves should prevent the blood from flowing back down into the leg. The calf muscle acts as a pump for the deep system, while the return of blood to the superficial system is passive; there is no pump for these. 

Varicose veins
Veins with incompetent valves that are enlarged, tortuous and thickened. 

An estimated 30%-40% of the general population has varicose veins.

Blood vessels that take blood back to the heart

Venous insufficiency

This means poor flow of blood from in the veins from the legs and feet to the heart. 

Its signs and symptoms include varicose veins, spider veins, aching, swelling, varicose eczema or venous leg ulcers. 

It is caused by enlargement of the veins or damaged valves, resulting in pooling of blood. 

Deep vein thrombosis can also create this condition. 

Over time, the condition can damage other vein valves and exacerbate the progression of venous reflux.

Venous Leg Ulcer (VLU)
A break in the skin caused by abnormal flow in the leg veins. 

Walking Therapy 

Whilst intense physical therapy should be avoided for the first 4 days after RF, sclerotherapy or other vein treatments, walking every day is important with a compression stocking to reduce the risk of DVT, to get the legs moving and to maximise the outcome.  

Widmer’s Classification 

A guide doctors used to assess chronic venous insufficiency that was developed to guide medical decision making regarding the evaluation and treatment of venous insufficiency.  

Wells Score 

A clinical scoring system that grades the level of patient risk for developing a deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism. 

-2 to 0 is a low probability while 2 to 8 is a high probability.

X Vein 

A small circumferential wire brush, like a dental brush or pipe cleaner, is used to scratch the vein wall back and forth.

Then, foam or liquid sclerosant can be deployed, if necessary, to complete the ablation.

Zinc paste impregnated stockinette 

A mildly elasticized tubular stocking that is impregnated with zinc oxide ointment.  

It is a substitute for a zinc oxide paste bandage in the treatment of venous leg ulcers. 

Zinc has soothing properties, is bactericidal and hypoallergenic and many consider it an ideal interface between a compression bandage and inflamed skin.