Varicose veins are bulging, twisted veins that can be seen directly under the skin. They occur when the one-way valves in your legs that keep blood flowing to the heart do not work normally. That causes blood to flow back into the veins, causing swelling.
Varicose veins are most commonly found in the legs but can appear in other parts of the body. They are common and generally do not cause medical problems. Rarely, they can cause other problems, such as blood clots and skin ulcers.
You can’t prevent varicose veins from occurring, but you can take steps to keep the ones you have from getting worse:
- Avoiding tight clothes
- Avoid crossing your legs
- Lose weight if you’re overweight
- Engage in physical activity
Varicose Veins Risk Factors
If you are female, you are at a higher risk of developing varicose veins. The following are some of the other risk factors:
- Family history of varicose veins
- Lack of exercise
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
The symptoms of varicose veins include the following:
- Enlarged veins that are visible directly under the surface of your skin
- Feet or ankle swelling
- Leg discomfort, such as pain and cramping
Varicose Vein Treatment at Rush
Varicose veins are often diagnosed with a physical exam. Lifestyle changes can often ease symptoms.
If varicose veins become painful or you are bothered by their appearance, vein specialists at Rush, including interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons, will use the latest research and technology to provide personalized treatment. Treatment options include the following:
- Endovenous laser and radiofrequency ablation use intense heat to close off and destroy the vein.
- Endovenous ablation, a noninvasive procedure in which doctors thread a catheter through the vein up to the groin — using a special solution to numb the vein — to seal off the vein.
- Laser treatment uses short bursts of light to make the vein disappear.
- Sclerotherapy involves injecting a chemical solution into the vein, causing the vein to harden and disappear.
Rush Excellence in Varicose Veins Care
- Among the best in the U.S.: U. S. News & World Report ranked Rush University Medical Center among the best in the nation in cardiology.
- National network for experts: Vein specialists at Rush are members of the American Venous Forum, a group of specialists dedicated to improving patient care through education and the exchange of information.
- All the experts in one place: As physicians at an academic health system, vein specialists in vascular surgery and interventional radiology have experience in the most advanced techniques, which equips them to handle both routine and complex cases.