Varicose Veins


Symptoms of varicose veins include swollen, aching legs that feel "heavy," numbness in the legs, and itching or a rash on the legs. If left untreated, varicose veins can become more severe, which in turn, makes the symptoms more severe -- they can even lead to other health problems, such as blood clots.

When to See a Doctor

When deciding whether to see your doctor about varicose veins, consider if they have become swollen, red, or very tender or warm to the touch. If they have, see your doctor. If they have not, but there are sores or a rash on the leg or near the ankle with the varicose vein, or you think there may be circulation problems in your feet, see your doctor.
If none of these issues are present, continue to follow the self-care tips discussed in Prevention of Varicose Veins.

Making a Diagnosis

In order to make a diagnosis, the healthcare provider will ask a number of questions and perform a physical exam looking for signs and symptoms of varicose veins. He or she may also recommend an ultrasound to look for how the blood is flowing and possible causes of the problem.

Treatment for Varicose Veins

Once a diagnosis has been made, your healthcare provider will consider a number of factors before recommending a treatment option. For some varicose veins, treatment may involve compression stockings or other strategies that do not require surgery, such as losing weight, increasing muscle tone, and physical activity (see Prevention of Varicose Veins for more information). In other cases, treatment for varicose veins may include:
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Endovenous methods (such as vein ablation) that use radiofrequency or a laser
  • Surgery (see Varicose Vein Surgery).

Information About Varicose Veins

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