What are Varicose Veins?


Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins near the surface of the skin. They usually happen in the legs and ankles.

Varicose veins are caused by improperly functioning valves within the veins. Normally, one-way valves in your veins keep blood flowing from your legs up toward your heart.

When these valves do not work, as they should, blood collects in your legs, and pressure builds up. The veins become weak, large, and twisted.

Being overweight, pregnant or having a job where you must stand for long periods of time increases pressure on leg veins and can lead to varicose veins.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins often look dark blue, swollen, and twisted under the skin. Some people do not have any symptoms. The veins typically appear prominent or look "raised."

The condition can cause swelling of the legs, ankles, and feet. The skin may become discolored due to leakage of blood into tissue, and ulcers may form on the skin.

Varicose veins are common and usually aren't a sign of a serious problem. However, in some cases, varicose veins can be a sign of a blockage in the deeper veins, which is called ‘deep vein thrombosis.’ If you have this problem, you may need treatment for it.

Diagnosis of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are easy to see, especially when you stand up. Your foot and ankle doctor will check your legs for tender areas, swelling, skin color changes, sores, and other signs of skin breakdown.

If you have signs of a deep vein problem or you plan to have treatment for varicose veins, you may need more tests.

Treatment of Varicose Veins

Home treatment may be all you need to ease your symptoms and keep the varicose veins from getting worse. Treatment may include:

  • Wear compression stockings.
  • Prop up your legs.
  • Avoid long periods of sitting or standing.
  • Get plenty of exercise.
Surgical Treatment of Varicose Veins

If home treatment does not help, there are a number of minor surgical treatment options such as sclerotherapy, laser treatment, and radiofrequency ablation.

Laser treatment and radiofrequency ablation may be used to treat larger varicose veins. Vein surgery, called ‘ligation and stripping,’ is an option for severe varicose veins.

Remember, any type of foot or ankle pain is never normal. A foot and ankle doctor can examine your feet and give you the best course of action.

Please call (626) 447-2184 (Arcadia) or (818) 408-2800 (San Fernando) to speak to a foot and ankle specialist about your foot and/or ankle needs.

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