What to Do About Varicose Veins

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What to know

Varicose veins are more than a cosmetic nuisance. They can be painful and may affect your quality of life. In more serious cases, the condition can cause sores and blood clots.

Common symptoms

Varicose veins occur when increased blood pressure in veins causes a weakness in vein valves and walls, allowing blood to pool. That causes enlarged, twisted veins. The condition is rarely serious, but varicose veins can cause leg pain, burning, throbbing, and heaviness.

Swollen lower legs

Other symptoms include: swollen lower legs or ankles, fatigue that improves with walking or elevating the legs, itchy skin, discoloration, or sores or ulcers on the ankle or shin area.

What you can do

Simple lifestyle measures can help alleviate symptoms. For example, avoid sitting or standing for long periods. Elevate your legs for 30 minutes three or four times a day.

Be flexible

Point and flex toes and feet several times a day, and try to exercise. At a minimum, walk at least 10 minutes a day.

Wear compression stockings

Your doctor may also recommend that you lose weight and wear compression stockings or bandages to relieve symptoms.

More medical help

Sometimes an outpatient procedure to treat veins close to the skin is necessary. Doctors often recommend radiofrequency ablation, where heat is delivered through a catheter (a long, thin tube) inserted into the vein to close and destroy it. Adverse effects include bruising and pain at the sites of multiple local injections. Patients must also wear a compression stocking to reduce the risk of blood clots.