The Vein Institute

Glossary of Terms

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Ambulatory Phlebectomy

What is an ambulatory phlebectomy?

Ambulatory phlebectomy (fle-BEK-to-me), is a traditional procedure that is usually done to remove the varicose veins closest to the surface of your skin. Your doctor will make small cuts in your skin to remove small varicose veins.  You will be awake during the procedure, but your doctor will numb the area around the vein. Usually, you can go home the same day that the procedure is done. Ambulatory Phlebectomy is often performed along with Sclerotherapy.

When is Ambulatory Phlebectomy performed?

It is used to treat Pelvic, Vulva and Vagina Varicose Veins. And Lipoedema as a result of varicose veins.



AccuVein is a medical imaging solution, enabling medical professionals to see a map of peripheral veins and guide them in order to treat diseased veins.

Blood Clot

Blood clots occur when platelets in your bloodstream join with red blood cells to form a solid. Most of the time clots are good, forming to restore damaged vein walls after injury, for example. However, there is a range of factors which can cause clots to occur when they shouldn’t, leading to more serious issues, including DVT and pulmonary embolism.

While lifestyle factors like smoking, excess weight or obesity, low levels of activity and more can lead to issues relating to blood clots, there is plenty of reason for everyone to be wary, no matter your level of fitness.

Burning Feet Syndrome

What is burning foot syndrome?

Burning feet syndrome, also known as Grierson-Gopalan syndrome, is a set of symptoms in which the feet often become uncomfortably hot and painful. The burning sensation may become more intense at night, with some relief occurring during the day. Symptoms may range from mild to severe. The heat and pain can be limited to the soles of the feet, but also might affect the tops of the feet, the ankles, and even the lower legs.

What causes Burning Feet Syndrome?

Most often, peripheral neuropathy is the cause of burning feet. When the nerves connecting the spinal cord to the extremities are damaged, they are more likely to misfire and send pain signals to the brain, even if there is no wound. Generally, the legs are the first to be impacted by neuropathy, with the nerve damage causing tingling and numbness in the feet and ankles. People who have had diabetes for a long time, or those with poorly controlled blood glucose levels, are more likely to develop peripheral neuropathy. ”

Burning or swollen feet can also be a symptom of varicose veins.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) is a condition which develops when the vein walls or vein valves are no longer working efficiently. When CVI occurs, the veins are no longer able to circulate blood back up to the heart and it begins to “pool”, eventually leading to a varicose vein.


What are the benefits of compression stockings?

Compression garments have a number of benefits. For athletes, compression garments promote blood flow and improve the oxygenation of muscle tissue. This can enhance athletic performance during short bouts of exercise. Athletes will also use compression for recovery, putting pressure on the muscles to minimise soreness.

Additionally, compression garments are used after medical treatments such as varicose vein surgery or non-surgical treatments such as Endovenous Laser Ablation, Radiofrequency Ablation and Sclerotherapy. They do this by raising the temperature of the skin and tissue to increase blood flow and promote healing. Studies show that wearing compression stockings for just one week reduced both the severity and pain associated with varicose veins.

Tip: You will get the best results if you put the garments on before getting out of bed in the morning – before gravity has taken effect.

A range of compression stockings can be purchased from The Vein Institute shop. They are available in a range of colours and styles.


In some cases, a person lacks the definition between the calf and ankle, creating a full or ‘swollen’ appearance above the foot. What causes cankles to form really depends on each person.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

What is deep vein thrombosis?

Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious condition that requires immediate medical attention. It occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein located deep inside your body. The real danger from DVT is if the clots breaks loose from where they originally formed and travel through the veins to other locations in the body.

If the clots travel to the brain they can cause a stroke, and if they travel to the lungs they can cause a pulmonary embolism (PE). Both are life-threatening conditions. DVT causing pulmonary embolisms are relatively common and can be known by the combined acronym, DVT/PE. This condition has been estimated to affect close to a million people worldwide, and several hundred thousand people die from it every year.

DVT Symptoms
Symptoms of deep vein thrombosis can include swelling, tenderness, and warmth of the skin in the area over which the clot has formed. However, over half of patients with DVT are “asymptomatic” and display no overt indications of the condition.

Symptoms of DVT/PE are much more striking, and include:

  • Sharp chest pain that gets worse when you cough, breathe deeply, bend over or stoop, and that doesn’t go away when you rest.
  • Shortness of breath, especially if it gets worse after exercise.
  • A cough that produces bloody sputum or pink, foamy mucus.
  • Leg pain, swelling, or severe cramps, usually in the calf muscles.
  • Fever or excessive sweating.
  • Clammy or discoloured skin, often accompanied by feelings of anxiety.
  • Sudden lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat.
  • If you experience any of these symptoms, you should seek immediate medical care.

If you are travelling long haul it is recommended that you wear medical grade compression stockings.

Endoscopic Vein Surgery

How does Endoscopic Vein Surgery work?

For endoscopic (en-do-SKOP-ik) vein surgery, your doctor will make a small cut in your skin near a varicose vein. They will then use a tiny camera at the end of a thin tube to move through the vein. A surgical device at the end of the camera is used to close the vein.

When is Endoscopic Vein Surgery performed?

Endoscopic vein surgery is usually only used in severe cases when varicose veins are causing skin ulcers. After the procedure, you can usually return to your normal activities within a few weeks.

Endovenous Laser Ablation

Endovenous Laser Ablation for varicose veins

Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat varicose veins. Over the past decade, this procedure, along with Radiofrequency Ablation, has emerged as the gold standard treatment, due to its high success rates, short recovery time and minimal discomfort for patients. A laser located at the tip of a catheter is inserted into the varicose vein. It works at a frequency ranging from 810 to 1470 (nm). The intense heat causes the blood in the vessel to clot, thereby sealing the vein and halting blood flow.

When is Endovenous Laser Ablation performed?

This form of treatment has been found to be successful on medium to large varicose veins.

See The Vein Institutes before and after patient results.



Where is fibrin found?

When a cut, scrape or other minor injury forms a scab, among other things, that scab is fibrin. Fibrin is a complex polymer created by your body to form clots and scabs. It is an insoluble protein essential to the clotting of blood. Derived from fibrinogen; a component of thrombi, vegetations, and acute inflammatory exudates.


What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are chemicals found in fruits, vegetables, wine, and tea that may protect cells from damage. Flavonoids are phytonutrients (beneficial plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. Flavonoids are known to improve blood circulation, keeping the blood flowing and making it less likely to pool in the veins. They also help to reduce blood pressure in the arteries and can relax blood vessels, all of which can reduce varicose veins.

Read about other non-medical options for managing varicose veins.


Do genetics influence varicose veins?

This is most important factor in determining if you may develop varicose veins. If your father has varicose veins the risk of inheritance is 30%, while if your mother has varicose veins the risk goes up to 40%. If both parents have varicose veins, the risk of inheritance is up to 90%

What is a gene?

A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Genes are made up of DNA. Human genes vary in size from a few hundred DNA bases to more than 2 million bases. The Human Genome Project estimated that humans have between 20,000 and 25,000 genes. Every person has two copies of each gene, one inherited from each parent. Most genes are the same in all people, but a small number of genes (less than 1 percent of the total) are slightly different between people.

Are there any other causes?

While there is no definite answer to why people get varicose veins, there are a number of other potential causes aside from genetics which may increase your likelihood.

Heavy Legs

Why are my legs heavy?

The sensation of heavy legs is the result of a set of symptoms which develop, often due to chronic venous insufficiency – the same disease which causes varicose veins.

Other causes of heavy legs syndrome include:

  • Peripheral arterial disease (PAD), a type of cardiovascular disease that can affect the veins and arteries.
  • Obesity, carrying extra weight can put more pressure on the joints, muscles, and tendons.
  • Pregnancy, due to a combination of the extra weight and hormonal changes.

Wearing compression stockings can provide some short term relief for pain and heavy legs. They can be purchased in The Vein Institute shop.

Inferior vena cava

What is the inferior vena cava?

The inferior vena cava carries blood from the lower half of the body, to the heart and is the largest vein in the human body. The inferior vena cava is formed due to the coming togethr of two major leg veins. These leg veins are called iliac veins.

The iliac veins meet at the small of the back, at the fifth lumbar vertebra. Once the iliac veins have merged, they form the inferior vena cava, which transports the deoxygenated blood to the heart. If obstruction occurs or veins become blocked, it can cause inferior vena cava syndrome. This can something be linked with deep vein thrombosis.

Symptoms include:

  • Swelling of the face, neck, upper body, and arms
  • Trouble breathing or shortness of breath
  • Coughing


When the vein valves are not working properly, it makes it difficult for the blood to return to the heart, therefore the blood pools in the veins. It is essential you catch CVI in its early stages before you start seeing tissue changes. These tissue changes leave you susceptible to wounds that are difficult to heal. Recent research shows that swelling of the legs in association with varicose veins is usually the result of lymphoedema.


What is Microsclerotherapy?

Microsclerotherapy (MI-kro-SKLER-o-ther-a-pe) is used to treat spider veins and other very small varicose veins. A small amount of liquid chemical is injected into a vein using a very fine needle. The chemical scars the inner lining of the vein, causing it to close off.

When is Microsclerotherapy performed?

Usually when treating smaller spider veins, Microsclerotherapy uses the same chemical as is used for foam sclerotherapy but a very much more dilute solution and used in liquid form rather than mixed with air into a foam.

Medical SuperGlue

How does Medical Superglue work?

Medical Superglue Venaseal™ is a surgery-free procedure that uses a medical adhesive to safely and effectively treat varicose veins. Unlike other treatments, medical superglue Venaseal™ only requires one local anaesthetic injection. The non-surgical treatment procedure also eliminates the use of heat (or thermal energy) so there is virtually no risk of nerve or skin injury.

When is Medical Superglue used?

Typically, doctors will recommend this type of treatment for mild, straight varicose veins between 4mm and 16mm. A duplex ultrasound is required to establish the size of the vein. Up to 5 straight veins can be treated  at any one time.

See The Vein Institutes before and after patient results.


What does obesity mean?

Obesity is regarded as having a body weight that is much higher than is considered healthy. Defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. Obesity puts a person at greater risk of developing numerous chronic diseases.

Can weight impact varicose veins?

Carrying excess weight will put additional pressure on your veins. Eating a diet high in fiber, avoiding excess salt, staying well hydrated, and maintaining a healthy weight will all have a positive impact on both your vascular health and overall health. However, if you already have varicose veins, changing your diet will not fix the faulty valves and you will need to consider having treatment.


What happens in oxidation?

A process in which oxygen combines with a substance, altering its structure and changing or destroying its normal function.

Oxygenated blood

What is Oxygenated Blood?

Blood that has moved through the lungs where it has absorbed oxygen; oxygenated blood moves from the lungs into the heart, from which it is then pumped throughout the body.


Phlebitis (fli-BY-tis) is a serious venous inflammation caused when the blood vessel walls are damaged. This damage can be caused by injury, trauma or infection to your veins.

Thrombophlebitis (throm-bow-fli-BY-tis) is caused by one or several blood clots in a vein, causing inflammation.

Unlike varicose veins, which occur in your legs, phlebitis can also occur in your arms and other parts of the body. The condition can cause pain and irritation, as it prevents proper circulation.


What does a Phlebologist do?

A Phlebologist is medically qualified doctor who treats a specific subset of vein disorders mainly in the legs. Although it is not a formal title approved by the APHRA (Medical Board), Phlebologists will often have significant expertise in the non-surgical treatment of varicose veins such as endovenous laser ablation, sclerotherapy or Venaseal procedures. A Phlebologist typically only works with veins in the legs and only treat one type of disease – venous disease. Venous disease includes conditions such as varicose and spider veins, blood clotting disorders as well as leg ulcers and related conditions.

The team at The Vein Institute are a combination of Interventional Radiologists and Phlebologists, learn more about these titles here.

Peripheral arterial disease

What is peripheral arterial disease?

A condition caused by atherosclerosis in the arteries in the legs or leading to them.

Peripheral vascular disease

What is peripheral vascular disease?

Narrowing of blood vessels that supply blood to the legs, arms, stomach, or kidneys.

Pelvic Congestion Syndrome

Pelvic congestion syndrome (PCS) is chronic pain affecting women. It can be incredibly debilitating and may even lead to disability. PCS pain is frequently confused for menstrual pain, so it’s important to know the symptoms of pelvic congestion syndrome, as well as the causes and available treatment options. PCS affects the pelvis region (lower torso) and is associated with the pooling of blood in the veins of the pelvis, which have become dilated, swollen and distorted.

Approximately one-third of all women will suffer from chronic pelvic pain at some point in their lives. Chronic pain is defined as lasting six months or longer. In most cases, the pain is not related to a woman’s menstrual cycle but it can get worse during her period.
The pain can intensify when sitting or standing, particularly at the end of the day. It can start with a dull ache at first, developing into a sharp, throbbing pain that’s only relieved by lying down.

Some patients may also experience pain when urinating (dysuria) or after engaging in sexual activity (dyspareunia).


What is reflux?

In medicine, the word reflux refers to the flow of a fluid through a vessel or valve in the body, in a direction opposite to normal. When it comes to varicose veins, reflux is the result of vascular dysfunction. It is identified in more than 90% of cases of severe Deep Venous Insufficiency (DVI).

Radiofrequency Ablation

What is Radiofrequency Ablation?

Radiofrequency Ablation is a minimally-invasive procedure used to treat varicose veins. Over the past decade, this procedure, along with Endovenous Laser Ablation, has emerged as the gold standard treatment, due to its high success rates, short recovery time and minimal discomfort for patients. Radiofrequency energy is administered in 20-second bursts directly into the vein through a tiny catheter. Rather than clotting the blood, RF energy targets the collagen in the vein wall, causing it to shrink and prevent blood from circulating through that vein.

See The Vein Institutes before and after patient results.

Reticular Veins

Smaller than varicose veins – usually no more than 2mm in size – reticular veins also do not protrude above the skin the way that varicose veins do. Due to being filled with deoxygenated blood, they appear blue or purple in colour. Reticular veins are most commonly found on the inner thigh, back of the knee or on the legs and ankles. They may not be quite as noticeable as the larger varicose veins, but their appearance nonetheless deters many people from wearing shorts, bathing suits, skirts or other clothing that reveals areas of the skin where they are visible.

Reticular veins can also produce symptoms such as pain and discomfort in the areas surrounding them. More importantly, they can serve as “feeder veins” for clumps of spider veins, serving as the source of excess blood that fills them.

Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS)

Restless legs syndrome (RLS) or Willis-Ekbom Disease, is a disorder causing an uncomfortable sensation in the legs, leading to an urge to move them, mostly at the end of the day or at night. It can also happen during an extended period of inactivity (working, flying, watching a movie). RLS causes fatigue and can affect concentration, mood, performance and more.

Saphenous vein

The great saphenous vein, or long saphenous vein, is a large superficial vein of the leg, and also the longest vein of the human body.


What is Schlerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy (SKLER-o-ther-a-pe) uses a liquid chemical to close off a varicose vein. The chemical is injected into the vein to cause irritation and scarring inside the vein. The irritation and scarring cause the vein to close off, and it fades away.

This procedure is often used to treat smaller varicose veins and spider veins. It can be done in your doctor’s office, while you stand. You may need several treatments to completely close off a vein.
Treatments are typically done every 4 to 6 weeks. Following treatments, your legs will be wrapped in bandaging to help healing and decrease swelling.

See The Vein Institutes before and after patient results.


“Sclerosis” means the hardening of a part of the body. So when we inject a sclerosant into a varicose vein (Sclerotherapy treatment), it aims at hardening and collapsing the vein in order for the body to absorb it with time, and the blood to be rerouted to other blood vessels.


Also known as Telangiectasia, spider veins don’t produce symptoms such as pain, itching or swelling. They can appear on all areas of the body, including legs, behind the knees and on the face.

However, these veins shouldn’t be mistaken for varicose veins – the twisted, dilated veins that can become painful, uncomfortable and even dangerous if left untreated. Varicose veins also tend to make an appearance when you’re older, have a history of obesity or during pregnancy.

Unsure which type of vein condition you have? Try our Vein Self-Assessment Tool, or read: Varicose Veins vs Spider Veins – Recognising the difference.


Thrombosis is a broad umbrella term that refers to a range of conditions that all involve blood clots forming in the vein or artery when there is no bleeding. When a clot like this forms (also known as a thrombus), it can have varied health effects depending on where it occurs. Depending on your general condition, thrombosis may be a singular incident or a more chronic problem. However, the good news is that generally, Thrombosis can be cured.


What is thrombosis?

Formation of a blood clot (called a thrombus) in a blood vessel or chamber of the heart.

Read about deep vein thrombosis and varicose veins.


Thrombophlebitis (throm-bow-fli-BY-tis) is caused by one or several blood clots in a vein, causing inflammation.


What are ulcers?

Leg ulcers are a very serious medical situation. In the majority of cases, they result from the failure of treatment for chronic venous disease, but they can also occur if you previously had deep vein thrombosis, have paralysis, osteoarthritis or a severe leg injury. The usually appear on the inside of the leg, just above the ankle. The symptoms include itching, swelling and pain. Read more about venous leg ulcers.


What is an ultrasound?

A painless, noninvasive imaging method that uses high-frequency sound waves to create an image of a person’s internal body structures. They have multiple uses including studying the fetus in the womb and diagnosing varicose veins.

Vein Stripping

What is vein stripping?

Vein stripping and ligation is the traditional treatment for varicose veins. It is typically only performed for severe cases of varicose veins. The procedure involves tying shut and removing the veins through small cuts in your skin. You will usually be given general anaesthetic to temporarily put you to sleep so you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. Vein stripping and ligation is usually done as an outpatient procedure.

What is recovery time for vein stripping?

The recovery time from the procedure is about 1 to 4 weeks.

Venous Insufficiency

What is venous insufficiency?

The term insufficiency is used in medicine to indicate failure of an organ or function. One can therefore refer to the vascular insufficiency as failure of the venous valves. Or insufficiency of the venous system – which is treated as an organ.


How does Venaseal work?

Venaseal™ is a surgery-free procedure that uses a medical adhesive to safely and effectively treat varicose veins. Unlike other treatments, medical superglue Venaseal™ only requires one local anaesthetic injection. The non-surgical treatment procedure also eliminates the use of heat (or thermal energy) so there is virtually no risk of nerve or skin injury.

When is VenaSeal used? Typically, doctors will recommend this type of treatment for mild, straight varicose veins between 4mm and 16mm. A duplex ultrasound is required to establish the size of the vein. Up to 5 straight veins can be treated  at any one time.

See The Vein Institutes before and after patient results.


Men can develop varicocele, a condition where the pampiniform plexus veins in the scrotum become enlarged. Here is some information on varicoceles: testicular varicose veins, what they are and how they can be treated. Varicoceles usually form during puberty. It’s estimated that 10-15% of boys have varicoceles without even knowing it, since testicular varicose veins rarely exhibit symptoms. Generally, varicoceles tend to occur more on the left side of the scrotum.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are twisted enlarged veins generally occurring in the legs and feet. They affect up to 30% of the Australian population and often appear blue or dark purple in colour. Thankfully, modern medical treatments offer an alternative to traditional surgery for those suffering from varicose veins.

Venous Eczema

In previous posts, we discussed common symptoms of varicose veins – from pain and heaviness, to swelling and discolouration. However, one lesser-known side-effect to vein disease is itchiness. Patients often complain of the skin around the damaged vein feels irritated and itchy. This due to a condition called Varicose Eczema, Venous Eczema, or Stasis Dermatitis. Learn about the symptoms of varicose eczema and how to treat itchy varicose veins.


What does the term ‘vascular’ refer to?

It refers to blood vessels and circulation.

Vascular dementia

What is vascular dementia?

Dementia caused by a narrowing or blockage of blood vessels in the brain or by a stroke or series of tiny strokes. Also called multi-infarct dementia.


What are valves?

Structures consisting of leaflets that divide the chambers of the heart and prevent the backflow of blood from one chamber to another during contraction of the heart.


What is a vein?

A vessel that carries blood back to the heart.

Vulvar varicosity

Pregnant women don’t often speak about vulvar varicosities, or vulva varicose veins. But they should. It is estimated that between 4 percent and 10 percent of women will develop vulvar varicose veins during pregnancy, although the actual figure is most likely to be much higher with many women not developing any symptoms, or being too embarrassed to discuss the symptoms with their doctor. So, here is everything on vulvar varicosities, how to manage varicose veins of the vulva.