Varicose veins occur when a superficial vein becomes swollen, dilated, and overfilled with blood. Weak or damaged valves are often the cause of varicose veins. If these valves are unable to regulate the flow, the blood begins to cluster. This results in the stretched and disfigured mounds beneath the skin known as varicose veins.
For many people, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern. For other people, varicose veins can be accompanied by painful symptoms that often lead to a more serious health condition.
Varicose veins are highly visible beneath the surface of the skin. They appear dark purple or blue and are most prominent on the legs. Varicose veins can cause excruciating muscle cramps, throbbing, soreness, or aching in the legs. People with varicose veins often experience itching around the vein and discoloration of the skin in the surrounding area.
Treatment for varicose veins will be determined by your healthcare provider based on:
- Overall health
- Medical history
- Signs & symptoms
- Tolerance of specific medications, procedures, or therapies
Varicose Vein Treatment Options
- Self-care. The pain of varicose veins can often be eased with self-care. Exercising and maintaining a healthy weight can manage existing varicose veins while preventing new ones from appearing.
- Compression stockings & Elevation. Wearing compression stockings while elevating the legs can help improve blood flow. Legs should be elevated above the heart level after exercise to keep blood from pooling in the veins.
- Sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy treats varicose veins injecting a solution directly into the veins. The solution causes the veins to scar, which forces the blood to reroute through healthier veins. Treated veins reabsorb into local tissue and fade from the surface of the skin. Risks for sclerotherapy may include bruising, inflammation, blood clots, air bubbles, or allergic reactions.
- Vein stripping. Vein stripping is a surgical procedure that removes the varicose veins from the legs or thighs. Vein stripping is a low-risk procedure. However, there are risks associated with surgeries. These include allergic reactions to anesthesia, infection at the incision site, heavy bleeding, blood clots, bruising, or nerve injury.