What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are
twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin. They are most common in
the legs and ankles. They usually aren't serious, but they can sometimes lead
to other problems.
See a picture of
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are
caused by weakened valves and veins in your legs. Normally, one-way valves in
your veins keep blood flowing from your legs up toward your heart. When these
valves do not work as they should, blood collects in your legs, and pressure
builds up. The veins become weak, large, and twisted.
veins often run in families. Aging also increases your risk.
overweight or pregnant or having a job where you must stand for long periods of
time increases pressure on leg veins. This can lead to varicose veins.
What are the symptoms?
Varicose veins look dark
blue, swollen, and twisted under the skin. Some people do not have any
symptoms. Mild symptoms may include:
- Heaviness, burning, aching, tiredness, or
pain in your legs. Symptoms may be worse after you stand or sit for long
periods of time.
- Swelling in your feet and
Itching over the vein.
More serious symptoms include:
- Leg swelling.
- Swelling and calf
pain after you sit or stand for long periods of time.
- Skin changes,
- Color changes.
- Dry, thinned
- Open sores, or you may bleed after a minor
Varicose veins are common and usually aren't a sign of a
serious problem. But in some cases, varicose veins can be a sign of a blockage
in the deeper veins called
deep vein thrombosis. If you have this problem, you
may need treatment for it.
How are varicose veins diagnosed?
Your doctor will
look at your legs and feet. Varicose veins are easy to see, especially when you
stand up. Your doctor will check your legs for tender areas, swelling, skin
color changes, sores, and other signs of skin breakdown.
have signs of a deep vein problem or you plan to have treatment for a varicose
vein, you may need more tests.
How are they treated?
Home treatment may be all
you need to ease your symptoms and keep the varicose veins from getting worse.
If you need treatment or you are concerned about how the
veins look, your options may include:
to close off the vein.
- Laser treatment to destroy the
- Radiofrequency treatment to close off the
- Surgery to tie off or remove the vein.
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