Varicose Veins FAQ


Healthy veins return blood to the heart so it can be re-oxygenated. One-way valves within the veins ensure that the blood flows in one direction, towards the heart. When valves fail or leak, the blood flows backwards, causing blood to pool in the veins. This pooling stretches vessels and can lead to the development of bumpy, rope-like veins.

While varicose veins are commonly inherited, anyone can get them. Hormonal changes brought on by puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, can trigger the onset of symptoms.

Spider veins are broken capillaries that appear as small web-like red, blue or purple veins on the surface of the skin. While they pose no health risks, they can cause significant discomfort. The primary factors contributing to the development of spider veins include heredity, pregnancy, hormones, weight gain, prolonged standing or sitting.

It can take years for varicose veins to develop symptoms such as swelling, a sense of fatigue, and throbbing or cramping in the legs. Often, the skin surrounding the varicose veins itches and burns.

Left untreated, severe varicose veins can compromise the health of the skin and lead to eczema, inflammation or even ulceration of the lower leg. Ulcerations are difficult to treat and become easily infected and painful. Many of these symptoms and complications can be prevented by early treatment of varicose veins.

Common symptoms include pain, aching or cramping in the legs as well as:

  • Tiredness
  • Burning
  • Tingling
  • Restlessness
  • Throbbing
  • Heaviness in the legs

Depending on the results of a screening examination, additional tests such as a diagnostic ultrasound may be recommended to identify the extent of vein damage and to look at blood flow in your legs. There are many options for treatment including sclerotherapy, vein ablation, and surgery.

Treatment is customized based upon your individual needs and will depend on the extent of vein damage, overall health, and other risk factors.

Support stockings and other measures including leg elevation, exercise, skin care, and cosmetics may be recommended.

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