What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are lumpy tortuous veins under the skin of the legs. They are caused by faulty valves inside the leg which malfunction and allow high pressure blood to come to the surface causing the bulging veins.
Varicose veins are usually obvious to the naked eye. However, sometimes they may develop inside the leg (internal varicose veins) and cause uncomfortable leg symptoms without any visible surface lumpy veins.
It is important to assess leg veins thoroughly with a duplex (doppler-ultrasound) scan before embarking on any treatment for visible veins.
What are the symptoms?
Typically, people with varicose veins may experience pain, aches, heavy legs, cramps, swelling, itching or skin marks, or any combination of these.
Typical discomfort due to varicose veins is an aching sensation exacerbated by standing for long periods and eased by elevating the leg. This may be associated with swelling and congestion of the leg. Varicose veins may be painless but unsightly.
If varicose veins are not treated, they can progress to cause skin damage. This includes itching, eczema, staining and pigmentation of the skin and, in the worst cases, leg ulceration.
What are the treatment options?
There are many treatment options for varicose veins and the choice of method depends largely on the shape and size of the faulty vein. A duplex scan is crucial to help with this decision. Please click here for more information on vein treatments.
Listen to Consultant Vascular Surgeon Ian Franklin discuss treatment options on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour here