What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged or twisted veins that bulge through the skin, usually on the legs or feet. Varicose veins—or milder spider veins—are often only a cosmetic concern, but they can cause aches, pain, discomfort, or more serious problems.
Learn more about the signs and symptoms of varicose veins, along with preventative steps, and the treatments we offer to help get you back to normal life.
Cause of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are caused by increased blood pressure in the superficial veins. While varicose veins usually don’t co-occur with blood clotting disorders such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which affects the deep veins of the legs, you should be aware of signs of blood clots that could indicate a more serious medical issue. These include pain, swelling, and redness of the leg. Call your healthcare provider if you have symptoms of a blood clot.
Signs & Symptoms of Varicose Veins
The most obvious symptom of varicose veins is the appearance of dark or bluish-colored veins visible through the skin. In many cases, varicose veins may not cause any pain or serious symptoms. When additional symptoms do occur, they may include:
- Feelings of heaviness, burning, throbbing, or aching in the legs
- Muscle cramping or swelling in the lower legs
- Worsening pain after sitting or standing for a long time
- Color changes in the skin
- Itching, rashes, or sores on the legs
Treatment of Varicose Veins
Many cases of varicose veins are not serious, but you might seek treatment for cosmetic reasons or to alleviate any discomfort they may cause. Call your physician if your varicose veins make walking or standing uncomfortable or if you experience swelling or bleeding.
At Vascular & Interventional Specialists, we provide non-invasive treatments for varicose veins:
- Sclerotherapy – A medicine or chemical solution (such as Verithena® or VenaSeal®) is injected into the affected veins, causing them to collapse and disappear.
- Radiofrequency ablation – A catheter emitting high-frequency radio waves is inserted into the affected veins, closing the veins and improving blood flow.
Several risk factors can increase the chances of developing varicose veins:
- Family history of spider or varicose veins
- History of blood clots
- Overweight or obesity
- Older age
- Sedentary lifestyle or prolonged standing
- Leg injury
- Using oral contraceptive pills or hormone replacement
Prevention of Varicose Veins
Behavioral and lifestyle changes can help prevent varicose veins or reduce symptoms and the risk of complications:
- Avoid wearing tight-fitting clothing that constricts the waist, groin, or legs
- Wear compression stockings
- Practice good skin hygiene
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Get plenty of exercise (30+ minutes, 5+ days/week)
- Avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods, and avoid crossing your legs while seated
- Elevate your legs while sitting and sleeping
VIS is here to help. If you are at risk for aortic disease or have experienced one or more of the signs & symptoms, please reach out to schedule a screening. We’ll walk this journey with you.