Varicose Veins


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.
Varicose Veins
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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.

Risk Factors

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:

Lifestyle Changes

Conservative treatment is tried first to relieve symptoms. Steps may include:
  • Avoid standing for long periods of time.
  • Rest with your legs elevated.
  • Flex legs occasionally when standing or sitting for long periods.
  • Wear compression stockings. Wearing these may help improve circulation in the leg veins.


Veins that are causing more severe symptoms may need further treatment such as:
  • Laser or light source therapy—laser or light source energy used to seal, collapse, and dissolve varicose veins
  • Sclerotherapy—injects the varicose veins with a chemical to shrink the veins
  • Radiofrequency ablation—collapses and seals varicose veins using radiofrequency energy
  • Surgery—banding and removing varicose veins—only for severe cases
  • Adhesive sealing—sealing the affected veins that are close to the skin using an adhesive agent


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. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 29, 2013. Accessed August 8, 2013.

Varicose veins and spider veins fact sheet. US Office on Women's Health. Available at: Updated July 16, 2012. Accessed June 29, 2015.

3/16/2015 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance : US Food and Drug Administration. FDA approves closure system to permanently treat varicose veins. Available at: Published February 20, 2015. Accessed March 16, 2015.

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