Why does the NHS treat leg ulcers primarily using compression bandages, when it is not the most effective treatment for the problem?
Compression bandages are the most common treatment for leg ulcers, but they treat the symptom (ulcers) not the cause (venous insufficiency).
Leg ulcers affect an estimated 500,000 adults in the UK, so it’s a big problem. The recommended treatment is compression bandages, which place pressure on the wound and help circulation through healthy veins. Yet compression does little to address the underlying issue and failed leg ulcer treatments cost the NHS an additional £2-3 million a year.
So why isn’t the NHS addressing the underlying cause of varicose veins? EVLA/EVLT (endovenous laser ablation) is a fast and effective treatment which can get rid of varicose veins quickly by destroying the malfunctioning veins so that the blood diversts through healthier veins. This would treat the underlying cause, allowing leg ulcers to clear up.
A number of reasons might be suggested why the NHS still recommends compression bandaging:
- Cost of delivering alternative treatments such as EVLA/EVLT (laser varicose vein treatment) is higher in the short term. The equipment is an expensive investment and treatment is delivered by a vascular surgeon
- Availability of EVLA on the NHS is very scarce, as the NHS has cut back on spend for varicose vein treatments
- NHS staff have to follow treatment recommendations, which point to compression bandaging
- Bandaging ulcers is faster and cheaper to deliver than laser surgery, as it can be carried out by a nurse rather than surgeon
- Many providers are not trained in the newer treatments – there are not enough with the knowledge to recommend them or capacity/training/resource to deliver them
The fact that compression bandaging is ineffective leaves many patients frustrated and disappointed.
Treating Varicose Veins
Varicose vein removal treatment is a solution for leg ulcers, as it gets to the root of the problem by destroying bad veins and improving blood flow to the area.
While there is little NHS availability, treatment is available in the private sector.
Cosmedics’ private London Vein Treatment Centres offer the latest advanced laser, chemical, mechanical and surgical treatment options. These treatments can be done relatively quickly as only local anaesthetic is required and are available on a ‘walk in walk out’ basis with no overnight stay.
- ClariVein® treatment, where a mechanical action causes the vein to spasm and then a special chemical is delivered to seal the vein
- EVLA treatment uses a laser to destroy the veins which are then broken down by the body’s metabolic processes
- Foam sclerotherapy uses a chemical to get rid of smaller varicose and larger thread veins
- Micro surgery is also available. This may be used alongside other treatments, removing the troublesome veins to minimise risk recurrence
London Vein Treatment Centre
Varicose & Thread Vein Treatment
Cosmedics Skin Clinics offer private treatment for thread veins and varicose veins at their London Vein Treatment Centre. They also offer varicose vein ultrasound scanning for proper diagnosis of any ‘underlying’ vein problems.
For more information or to book a consultation, please complete the form on this web page or call 020 7386 0464.