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Scars and ulcers among risks from boom in beauticians treating varicose veins

The adverts promise beautiful legs, zero risk, and treatment in as little as 15 minutes. But unregulated injections to “eliminate” varicose veins are putting clients at risk of serious health complications, surgeons have warned.

Vein removal treatments costing as little as £90 a session are being offered by beauticians without medical supervision across the UK, Observer analysis has found.

Promoted with dramatic before and after photos and billed as a quick fix, microsclerotherapy involves the injection of a chemical irritant to disrupt the vein lining. This causes the vein walls to stick together, making it no longer visible on the skin. When performed correctly on finer veins, known as “thread” or “spider” veins, the procedure is generally considered safe, provided no underlying issues are present.

But beauticians and other non-healthcare professionals are also offering vein treatments for people with varicose veins, which can signify underlying venous disease, analysis of promotional materials shows. In such cases, treatments should be performed by practitioners in a regulated clinic, where specialists first use ultrasound scans to assess the area.

Conducting vein removal incorrectly or when there are underlying problems can lead to complications including leg ulcers, nerve damage, blood clots, stroke, allergic reactions and scarring, the Joint Council for Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP) said. Even in cases where only thread veins are visible, other problems may be present.

Prof Mark Whiteley, a consultant venous surgeon and chair of the Whiteley chain of clinics, said he had seen cases of women with leg ulcers and permanent scarring after treatment for varicose veins from non-medics. In other cases, people had paid for treatment but saw no effect because the underlying cause was not tackled. “It’s totally disgraceful,” he said.

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Source: The Guardian, 20 November 2022


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