Varicose veins are bulging, twisted visible veins that form when valves that normally push blood forward — toward your heart — wear out due to injury or aging. When the valves in your veins don’t work, the blood pools behind the valves, creating unsightly bulges and twists. Varicose veins usually form in your legs.

Do you have varicose veins?

Almost 25% of women and men in the U.S. have varicose veins. Usually, they appear as you get older, because your veins and their valves wear out over time. 

You’re more likely to develop varicose veins if you:

  • Sit for prolonged periods

  • Are female
  • Don’t exercise regularly
  • Smoke
  • Are overweight
  • Have a family member who has varicose veins

Are varicose and spider veins dangerous?

Spider veins rarely are a serious health problem, but they can cause uncomfortable feelings in the legs. If there are symptoms from spider veins, most often they will be itching or burning. Less often, spider veins can be a sign of blood backup deeper inside that you can’t see on the skin. If so, you could have the same symptoms you would have with varicose veins. Rarely, larger spider veins can bleed if scratched or bumped.

Varicose veins may not cause any problems, or they may cause aching pain, throbbing, and discomfort. In some cases, varicose veins can lead to more serious health problems. These include:

  • Sores or skin ulcers due to chronic (long-term) backing up of blood. These sores or ulcers are painful and hard to heal. Sometimes they cannot heal until the backward blood flow in the vein is repaired.
  • Bleeding. The skin over the veins becomes thin and easily injured. When an injury occurs, there can be significant blood loss.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis which is a blood clot that forms in a vein just below the skin. Symptoms include skin redness; a firm, tender, warm vein; and sometimes pain and swelling.
  • Deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot in a deeper vein. It can cause a “pulling” feeling in the calf, pain, warmth, redness, and swelling. However, sometimes it causes no significant symptoms. If the blood clot travels to the lungs, it can be fatal.

Do I need a screening?

A patient with symptoms may or may not have visible varicose veins in their legs. An ultrasound examination of the major veins inside the leg is essential to assess for vein reflux disease. This is the most common cause or source for varicose veins as well as the associated symptoms. Any treatment of varicose veins and its associated symptoms must begin with addressing the source.

Any person who has varicose or spider veins in their legs can call or make an appointment online for a free 15 minute vein screening. You will meet one of our certified practitioners to discuss your concerns and answer all of your questions. You will undergo a painless, noninvasive screening ultrasound of the legs to assess for vein reflux disease. If appropriate, you will then be set up for a full consultation with one of our team members along with undergoing a formal ultrasound examination of your legs.


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