Vascular Surgery

Varicose Veins

Introduction to Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are dilated parts of veins that are located just under the surface of the skin. They usually appear on the leg and are often easy to see.

Written by Doctify Team 27/04/2020

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are dilated parts of veins that are located just under the surface of the skin. They usually appear on the leg and are often easy to see. They have a thick, knobbly and blue appearance. Varicose veins are relatively common in the UK, with it occurring in approximately 3 in 100 people during their lifetime. Most people with this condition do not suffer from any underlying disease and they usually occur for no apparent reason.

What causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are caused by a weakness in the wall of the vein. This part of the vein then widens and becomes more prominent. If it occurs near a valve then this can cause the valve to become leaky which can cause blood to flow backwards. When this happens at one valve it can cause similar effects to other valves as it causes extra pressure on the vein. Blood can then pool and cause enlargement of the vein.

The chance of you getting varicose veins increases if you are: pregnant, of an older age, overweight or have a job that requires you to stand a lot. Pregnancy and being overweight can put extra pressure on the vein, causing them to enlarge.

What are the symptoms of Varicose Veins?

The majority of people with varicose veins have no symptoms. However larger varicose veins have can feel heavy, achy or itchy.

How are Varicose Veins treated?

The majority of people with varicose veins do not need or require treatment. However some require treatment if complications develop, there are symptoms causing discomfort or for cosmetic reasons. Complications include: inflammation of the vein (thrombophlebitis), swelling of the leg or foot, varicose eczema and venous leg ulcers.
There are several different treatment options for varicose veins including:
Self help methods such as avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, weight loss and using ointments or creams to reduce itchiness.
Radiofrequency ablation involves putting a probe into one of the varicose veins and using a laser or radiofrequency energy to heat up the vein, forming a seal.
Foam sclerotherapy is when foam is injected into the veins, which pushes the blood out of the vein and causes the vein to spasm. Compression and stockings are needed after the treatment.
Surgery is recommended if the above therapies fail. It requires a vascular surgeon to remove the section of vein that is affected.
Support tights and compression stockings help ease the symptoms of varicose veins.

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