Varicose Veins


Varicose veins are often thought of as a cosmetic problem, but for many people varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency can cause problems.

Symptoms include:

  • Legs feeling heavy or tired
  • Aching legs
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling (rings formed by the sock)
  • Restless legs
  • Itching

The symptoms can get worse after standing a long time or at the end of the day. Discolorationa dark or bronze skin colorextending from the mid-calf down to the ankles can occur. 

Over time, the constant pressure on the vein walls from weakened valves, or venous insufficiency, can lead to more inflammation, persistent swelling, further discoloration and leathery skin. In the most severe or advanced cases, ulcers may form at or above the ankles.

Some people with this condition are able to find relief by raising their legs or with lifestyle changes (avoiding long periods of standing, losing weight and walking). Others get relief by wearing compression stockings or compression sleeves. More advanced stages and symptoms require treatments that identify the veins that aren’t working and “closing or removing them” using a variety of techniques.

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Published: July 2017
Author: Robert A. Attaran, MD, FACC
Medical Reviewers: Herbert Aronow, MD, MPH, FACC; Khusrow Niazi, MBBS, FACC; Michelle Sloan, NP

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