Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins that become large, twisted, and swollen. They are common on the back of the calves, knees, and thighs. Varicose veins are caused by valves in your veins that do not work properly. This causes blood to collect and increase pressure in the veins of your legs. The increased pressure causes your veins to stretch, get larger, swell, and twist.

What increases my risk for varicose veins?

  • Pregnancy
  • A family history of varicose veins
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Age 50 years or older
  • Sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Wearing tight clothing

What are the signs and symptoms of varicose veins?

Your symptoms may be worse after you stand or sit for long periods of time. You may have any of the following:

  • Blue, purple, or bulging veins in your legs
  • Pain, swelling, or muscle cramps in your legs
  • Feeling of fatigue or heaviness in your legs

How are varicose veins diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your legs and ask about your medical history. You may need tests, such as a Doppler ultrasound or duplex scan. These tests show your veins and valves, and how your blood is flowing through them. These tests may also show if there is a blockage or blood clot.

How are varicose veins treated?

The goal of treatment is to decrease symptoms, improve appearance, and prevent further problems. Treatment will depend on which veins are affected and how severe your condition is. You may need procedures to treat or remove your varicose veins. For example, your healthcare provider may inject a solution or use a laser to close the varicose veins. Surgery to remove long veins may also be done. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about procedures used to treat varicose veins.

Treatment options

The following list of medications are in some way related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

  • polidocanol
  • Sotradecol
  • Asclera
  • Varithena
  • sodium tetradecyl sulfate

What can I do to manage my symptoms?

  • Do not sit or stand for long periods of time. This can cause the blood to collect in your legs and make your symptoms worse. Bend or rotate your ankles several times every hour. Walk around for a few minutes every hour to get blood moving in your legs.
  • Do not cross your legs when you sit. This decreases blood flow to your feet and can make your symptoms worse.
  • Do not wear tight clothing or shoes. Do not wear high-heeled shoes. Do not wear clothes that are tight around the waist or knees.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can make your varicose veins worse. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him or her to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.

Wear pressure stockings as directed. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. They improve blood flow and help prevent clots.

Elevate your legs. Keep them above the level of your heart for 15 to 30 minutes several times a day. You can also prop the end of your bed up slightly to elevate your legs while you sleep. This will help blood to flow back to your heart.