A varicose veins occurs when the one-way valves in a vein become weak or damaged, allowing blood to flow backwards. The blood forms pools in your vein, which becomes swollen and enlarged (varicose). You may also suffer from varicose eczema, which is a chronic (long-term) skin condition that causes dry, flaky and sometimes itchy skin on your lower legs. It’s also known as venous, gravitational or stasis eczema.
Varicose veins are a very common chronic (long-term) condition that usually occurs in the legs or feet. However, varicose veins can happen anywhere, including around your anus (bottom), when they’re called haemorrhoids.
About three in 10 adults are affected by varicose veins. They're more likely to develop as you get older, with women at a higher risk of varicose veins.
You’re also at a higher risk of developing varicose veins if you:
Lifestyle changes such as losing weight or taking more exercise can sometimes prevent varicose veins symptoms worsening.
If your varicose veins are causing problems, they can be removed through surgical and non-surgical techniques.
The main symptom of a varicose vein is a swollen, twisted, purple vein that may have bulges or lumps. Other varicose veins symptoms include:
If varicose veins are causing you discomfort or you’re unhappy about their appearance, see your GP. They'll recommend how to get rid of varicose veins or suggest ways of relieving your varicose veins symptoms.
Your GP will ask about your general health and how your varicose veins symptoms are affecting you. They may discuss what causes varicose veins and provide lifestyle advice about ways to relieve your symptoms, including:
If your varicose veins symptoms are troublesome, your GP may recommend varicose veins removal and refer you to a vascular surgeon.
A vascular surgeon will examine your affected veins and may send you for an ultrasound scan to locate the damaged valves in your varicose veins.
Varicose veins treatment involves closing off and destroying the affected veins. There are several surgical techniques and innovations that can be used to remove varicose veins, including:
Other treatments include:
Your doctor will discuss which surgical treatment is best for you. This will depend on your general health and the size, shape and severity of your varicose veins.