Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted.

CAUSES

This condition is the result of valves in the veins not working properly. Valves in the veins help return blood from the leg to the heart. If these valves are damaged, blood flows backwards and backs up into the veins in the leg near the skin. This causes the veins to become larger. People who are on their feet a lot, who are pregnant, or who are overweight are more likely to develop varicose veins.

SYMPTOMS

  • Bulging, twisted-appearing, bluish veins, most commonly found on the legs.

  • Leg pain or a feeling of heaviness. These symptoms may be worse at the end of the day.

  • Leg swelling.

  • Skin color changes.

DIAGNOSIS

Varicose veins can usually be diagnosed with an exam of your legs by your caregiver. He or she may recommend an ultrasound of your leg veins.

TREATMENT

Most varicose veins can be treated at home. However, other treatments are available for people who have persistent symptoms or who want to treat the cosmetic appearance of the varicose veins. These include:

  • Laser treatment of very small varicose veins.

  • Medicine that is shot (injected) into the vein. This medicine hardens the walls of the vein and closes off the vein. This treatment is called sclerotherapy. Afterwards, you may need to wear clothing or bandages that apply pressure.

  • Surgery.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

  • Do not stand or sit in one position for long periods of time. Do not sit with your legs crossed. Rest with your legs raised during the day.

  • Wear elastic stockings or support hose. Do not wear other tight, encircling garments around the legs, pelvis, or waist.

  • Walk as much as possible to increase blood flow.

  • Raise the foot of your bed at night with 2-inch blocks.

  • If you get a cut in the skin over the vein and the vein bleeds, lie down with your leg raised and press on it with a clean cloth until the bleeding stops. Then place a bandage (dressing) on the cut. See your caregiver if it continues to bleed or needs stitches.

SEEK MEDICAL CARE IF:

  • The skin around your ankle starts to break down.

  • You have pain, redness, tenderness, or hard swelling developing in your leg over a vein.

  • You are uncomfortable due to leg pain.