Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen blood vessels that appear just under your skin’s surface in your lower body. When your vein walls are weak and your valves aren’t working right, blood backs up in your vein.


Vein walls and valves can become weak for several reasons, including:

  • Hormones.

  • The aging process.

  • Excess weight.

  • Restrictive clothing.

  • Pressure inside the vein from standing for long periods.


Bulging veins

Twisted, swollen, rope-like veins are often blue or purple. They appear just below the surface of the skin on your legs, ankles and feet. They can develop in clusters. Tiny red or blue lines (spider veins) may appear nearby.

Heavy legs

Muscles in your legs may feel tired, heavy or sluggish, especially after physical activity.


The area around varicose veins may itch.


Legs may be painful, achy or sore, especially behind your knees. You might have muscle cramps.


Your legs, ankles and feet can swell and throb.

Skin discolorations and ulcers

If left untreated, varicose veins can cause brown discolorations on your skin. Severe varicose veins can cause venous ulcers (sores) on your skin.


  • Varicose veins are close to the surface of your skin and easy to see. Healthcare providers can diagnose the condition during a physical examination.

  • They’ll feel your veins and examine them while you’re sitting and standing.

  • To see detailed images of your veins and check for complications, your provider may recommend an ultrasound. This safe, painless test uses sound waves to produce pictures of tissues inside your body.

  • Ultrasounds can show blood clots and how your valves are working.


Avoid long periods of standing

To encourage blood flow, take regular breaks to stretch and walk around, especially if you have a job that requires you to be on your feet.

Elevate your legs

Raising your feet above your waist helps blood flow to your heart.

Maintain a healthy weight

Getting rid of excess pounds reduces pressure inside your blood vessels.

Quit tobacco use

Smoking damages blood vessels, decreases blood flow and causes a wide range of health problems.

Stay active

To improve circulation, move frequently and avoid sitting still for prolonged periods.

Try compression stockings

Support socks and pantyhose compress your veins and help blood circulate, which can prevent varicose veins from getting worse.

Wear clothes that fit properly

To encourage blood flow, make sure your waistband isn’t too tight.



To increase blood flow and decrease pressure in your veins, you should elevate your legs above your waist several times throughout the day.

Elastic stockings

Supportive stockings or socks compress your veins and reduce discomfort. The compression stops your veins from stretching and helps blood flow.

Injection therapy (sclerotherapy)

During sclerotherapy, a healthcare provider injects a solution into your vein. The solution causes the vein walls to stick together. Eventually, your vein turns into scar tissue and fades away.

Laser therapy

In a minimally invasive procedure called endovenous thermal ablation, healthcare providers use a catheter (a long, thin tube) and laser to close off a damaged vein.

Vein surgery

During these procedures, also called ligation and stripping, the surgeon ties off your affected vein (ligation) to stop blood from pooling. The surgeon may remove (strip) the vein to prevent varicose veins from reappearing.

diseases treatments varicose-veins disorders health prevention cardiovascular-system

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