Learn About Varicose Veins

What is the definition of Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and enlarged veins that you can see under the skin. They are often red or blue in color. They most often appear in the legs, but can occur in other parts of the body.

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What are the alternative names for Varicose Veins?

Varicosity

What are the causes of Varicose Veins?

Normally, one-way valves in your leg veins keep blood moving up toward the heart. When the valves do not work properly, they allow blood to back up into the vein. The vein swells from the blood that collects there, which causes varicose veins.

Varicose veins are common, and affect more women than men. They do not cause problems for most people. However, if the flow of blood through veins becomes worse, problems such as leg swelling and pain, blood clots, and skin changes may be present.

Risk factors include:

  • Older age
  • Being female (hormonal changes from puberty, pregnancy, and menopause can lead to varicose veins, and taking birth control pills or hormone replacement can increase your risk)
  • Being born with defective valves
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • History of blood clots in your legs
  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time
  • Family history of varicose veins
What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?

Symptoms of varicose veins include:

  • Fullness, heaviness, aching, and sometimes pain in the legs
  • Visible, swollen veins
  • Smaller veins that you can see on the surface of the skin, called spider veins.
  • Thigh or calf cramps (often at night)
  • Mild swelling of feet or ankles
  • Itching
  • Restless leg symptoms

If flow of blood through the veins becomes worse, symptoms may include:

  • Leg swelling
  • Leg or calf pain after sitting or standing for long periods
  • Skin color changes of the legs or ankles
  • Dry, irritated, scaly skin that can crack easily
  • Skin sores (ulcers) that do not heal easily
  • Thickening and hardening of the skin in the legs and ankles (this can happen over time)
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What are the current treatments for Varicose Veins?

Your provider may suggest that you take the following self-care steps to help manage varicose veins:

  • Wear compression stockings to decrease swelling. These stockings gently squeeze your legs to move blood up toward your heart.
  • DO NOT sit or stand for long periods. Even moving your legs slightly helps keep the blood flowing.
  • Raise your legs above your heart 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time.
  • Care for wounds if you have any open sores or infections. Your provider can show you how.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight.
  • Get more exercise. This can help you keep off weight and help move blood up your legs. Walking or swimming are good options.
  • If you have dry or cracked skin on your legs, moisturizing may help. However, some skin care treatments can make the problem worse. Talk to your provider before using any lotions, creams, or antibiotic ointments. Your provider can recommend lotions that can help.

If only a small number of varicose veins are present, the following procedures may be used:

  • Sclerotherapy. Salt water or a chemical solution is injected into the vein. The vein hardens and disappears.
  • Phlebectomy. Small surgical cuts are made in the leg near the damaged vein. The vein is removed through one of the cuts.
  • If the varicose veins are larger, longer, or more widespread on the leg, your provider will suggest a procedure using such a laser or radiofrequency, which can be done in the provider's office or clinic.
Who are the top Varicose Veins Local Doctors?
Elite
Highly rated in
25
conditions
General Surgery
Vascular Surgery

UNC Health

UNC Hospitals Heart And Vascular Center At Meadowmont

300 Meadowmont Village Cir 
Chapel Hill, NC 27517

William Marston is a General Surgeon and a Vascular Surgeon in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Dr. Marston has been practicing medicine for over 34 years and is rated as an Elite doctor by MediFind in the treatment of Varicose Veins. He is also highly rated in 25 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Venous Insufficiency, Varicose Veins, Peripheral Artery Disease, and Osteomyelitis. He is licensed to treat patients in North Carolina. Dr. Marston is currently accepting new patients.

Elite
Highly rated in
4
conditions

University Of Surrey

Guildford, ENG, GB 

Mark Whiteley is in Guildford, United Kingdom. Whiteley is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Varicose Veins. He is also highly rated in 4 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Varicose Veins, Pelvic Congestion Syndrome, Venous Insufficiency, and Telangiectasia.

 
 
 
 
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Learn more
Elite
Highly rated in
13
conditions

University Magna Graecia Of Catanzaro

Catanzaro, IT 

Raffaele Serra is in Catanzaro, Italy. Serra is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Varicose Veins. He is also highly rated in 13 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Varicose Veins, Peripheral Artery Disease, Venous Insufficiency, and Gangrene.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins tend to get worse over time. Taking self-care steps can help relieve achiness and pain, keep varicose veins from getting worse, and prevent more serious problems.

When should I contact a medical professional for Varicose Veins?

Call your provider if:

  • Varicose veins are painful.
  • They get worse or do not improve with self-care, such as by wearing compression stockings or avoiding standing or sitting for too long.
  • You have a sudden increase in pain or swelling, fever, redness of the leg, or leg sores.
  • You develop leg sores that do not heal.
What are the latest Varicose Veins Clinical Trials?
Comparison of 2 Days Versus 5 Days of Octreotide After Endoscopic Therapy in Preventing Early Esophageal Varices Rebleed: A Randomized Controlled Study
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Outcome and Prognostic Factors of Surgical Management of Scalp Arteriovenous Malformations
What are the Latest Advances for Varicose Veins?
Radiofrequency ablation of the great saphenous vein in the treatment of varicose veins of the lower extremities.
Evaluation of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) as a previous step to liver transplantation in pediatric patients.
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A strategy to enable rapid healing and prevent recurrence of venous ulcers.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : June 16, 2020
Published By : Deepak Sudheendra, MD, RPVI, FSIR, Director of DVT & Complex Venous Disease Program, Assistant Professor of Interventional Radiology & Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, with an expertise in Vascular Interventional Radiology & Surgical Critical Care, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM Jr, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2017:chap 64.

Iafrati MD, O'Donnell TF. Varicose veins: surgical treatment. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 154.

Sadek M, Kabnick LS. Varicose veins: endovenous ablation and sclerotherapy. In: Sidawy AN, Perler BA, eds. Rutherford's Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:chap 155.