Varicose veins are dark-blue, swollen and twisted veins visible through the skin. People with varicose veins describe having legs that feel heavy, tired, achy and painful. Symptoms may worsen after standing or sitting for long periods of time.
The treatment of varicose veins is important not only for aesthetic improvement, but also for pain relief and prevention of more serious conditions. The comprehensive Vein Center at The University of Kansas Health System offers state-of-the-art technologies and minimally invasive treatment options for both varicose veins and spider veins.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged veins that have become distended or swollen and the valves that move blood to the heart cannot close properly and start to leak. Blood that should be pushed back to the heart leaks downward, pooling in the lower extremities of the body and causing the veins to bulge. People who sit or stand in one position for long periods of time tend to have more symptoms from varicose veins.
Varicose vein symptoms and risks
Signs of varicose veins and venous problems include:
- Aching or pain in the legs
- Appearance of blue or purple spider vein configurations under the skin
- Dramatic skin color changes
- Irritated or dry, thin skin
- Itching or burning
- Nighttime cramping
- Open sores
- Raised outline of overly curved veins visible under the skin
- Tired or heavy legs
There are several risk factors that can increase your chances of developing varicose veins:
- Family history
- Hormonal changes, such as puberty, pregnancy or birth control pills
- Multiple pregnancies
- Increased age
- Prolonged standing/sitting
Varicose vein diagnosis and screening
In most cases, varicose veins can be diagnosed on sight by your physician. However, additional testing may be necessary to determine the underlying cause and decide on the best course of treatment.
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Varicose vein treatment
People who are experiencing venous symptoms should schedule a consultation to determine whether they are suffering from venous disease. The first treatment step is often compression stockings. This may improve some symptoms in the legs; however, often patients still require varicose vein procedures.
Your physician may perform an ultrasound to help diagnose malfunctioning veins deeper within the leg. This helps guide treatment for the optimal clinical result of alleviating symptoms.
The good news is vascular conditions are highly treatable and varicose vein treatments have improved over the years. Several minimally invasive outpatient procedures have replaced complex surgical therapy known as ligation and stripping: