What is it?

As you age, tiny valves inside the veins in your legs can begin to wear out or get damaged, from either standing too long at a time, too much uninterrupted sitting over the years or other risk factors. These damaged valves result in what's called venous insufficiency – not enough blood flow. When there's not enough blood flowing in the legs, the blood that is there can build up inside the veins. This can lead to vein swelling and what becomes a varicose vein.

Symptoms

  • Veins that noticeably protrude or bulge under the skin, looking and feeling ropey.
  • Achy, heavy-feeling and itchy legs; these symptoms may intensify after a day of standing.
  • Severe pain when standing or leg cramps at night.

Risk factors

  • Advancing age.
  • Family history.    
  • Gender; women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins.
  • Pregnancy or obesity.
  • Leg trauma.

Diagnosing varicose veins

  • Complete medical history and physical examination.
  • Ultrasound.

Treating varicose veins

  • Compression stockings.
  • Elevating your feet whenever possible.
  • Exercise will help relieve symptoms.
  • Procedure options: 
    • Endovenous laser ablation.
    • Catheter ablation.
    • Sclerotherapy or injections into the vein. 
    • Vein stripping.
    • Surgical procedures.