Health A to Z

Varicose veins

The keys to minimizing the look of varicose veins: Exercise, weight loss, and not standing so much.

Varicose veins causes, symptoms and treatments

Varicose veins are enlarged veins, usually on the legs and feet. Both varicose veins and spider veins, which are a less-severe version of varicose veins, are usually only a cosmetic concern; however, varicose veins can cause pain and may signal a circulatory problem.

Varicose vein causes Aging causes varicose veins, since the veins lose elasticity and stretch. Heredity, being overweight and sitting or standing for long periods of time may also increase risk. Some pregnant women develop varicose veins due to hormonal changes and circulatory changes to support the fetus, which  may enlarge veins. Varicose veins that develop during pregnancy usually improve within three months of delivery without medical treatment.

Varicose vein symptoms Varicose veins are dark blue or purple and may appear bulging or twisted. They may feel achy, or they may burn, and the pain may worsen if you’ve been sitting or standing for long periods.

Varicose vein diagnosis/tests If you’re concerned about your veins, see your family doctor who will do a physical examination and discuss your symptoms such as pain or blood clots. She may order a duplex ultrasound to see if the veins have any clots or leaky valves. Sometimes a plethysmography, a noninvasive test is recommended to see how well the veins in the legs are functioning. Your doctor may also want to see if you have any other medical conditions, such as diabetes, that may be causing problems with blood circulation.

Varicose vein treatment Simple steps, such as exercising, losing weight and not standing or sitting for extended periods, can prevent pain and keep varicose veins from getting worse. Compression stockings squeeze the legs and keep blood moving more efficiently. Varicose vein treatments, including sclerotherapy, involve injecting the veins with a solution that scars and closes them. Laser surgery may help the veins fade and disappear. Vein stripping removes a long vein through small incisions.

Varicose vein prevention It may not be possible to completely prevent varicose veins, but you can lower your risk of developing them by being a healthy weight, exercising to improve blood circulation and vein strength; regularly changing your position when you’re sitting or standing and going without high heels and tight hose for long periods of time. Also, when you’re sitting, avoid crossing your legs, which can injure them, a risk factor for varicose veins.

Outside resources
Mayo Clinic

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