Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins. They can occur anywhere in the body, but are particularly common in the surface veins in the legs.
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Veins have one way valves to channel blood back to the heart. Varicose veins develop when the valves of the veins become damaged. This causes blood to pool in the veins, enlarging them and often making the veins just beneath the skin visible.
Varicose veins are more common in women who are of childbearing age and older. Other factors that increase your chance of getting varicose veins include:
Varicose veins may cause:
In severe cases, varicose veins may cause skin changes. These changes occur under the area of the varicose veins and include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Varicose veins can be easily seen. An ultrasound exam of your legs may also be done.
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options may include one or more of the following:
Conservative treatment is tried first to relieve symptoms. Steps may include:
Veins that are causing more severe symptoms may need further treatment such as:
Varicose veins can't be completely prevented, especially if they run in your family. The following recommendations may help:
American College of Phlebology
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Canadian Society for Aesthetic Plastic Surgery
Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery
Varicose veins and spider veins fact sheet. US Office on Women's Health. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/varicose-spider-veins.html. Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed June 13, 2016.
3/16/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116699/Varicose-veins: US Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves closure system to permanently treat varicose veins. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm435082.htm. Published February 20, 2015. Accessed June 13, 2016.
6/13/2017 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillancehttp://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116699/Varicose-veins: Endovenous mechanochemical ablation for varicose veins. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence website. Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ipg557. Published May 2016. Accessed June 13, 2017.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Michael J. Fucci, DO Last Updated: 6/13/2017