About This Condition
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins close to the surface. They can occur almost anywhere but most commonly occur in the esophagus and the legs.
Veins, which return blood to the heart, contain valves that keep blood from flowing backward as a result of gravity. When these valves become weak, blood pools in the veins of the legs and causes them to bulge. These enlarged vessels are called varicose veins. Standing and sitting for long periods of time, lack of exercise, obesity, and pregnancy all tend to promote the formation of varicose veins. Sometimes varicose veins are painful, but elevating the affected leg usually brings significant relief.
Symptoms of varicose veins may include a dull pain, itch, or heavy sensation in the legs. The sensation is worse after prolonged standing and better when the legs are elevated. Varicose veins typically appear on the legs as dilated, tortuous veins close to the surface of the skin, and may look blue. Advanced varicose veins may cause ankle and leg swelling or skin ulcers.
Other treatment is to elevate the legs frequently, avoid prolonged standing or sitting, and wear compression stockings with supportive shoes. Other treatments include surgery to remove the vein, laser therapy, and sclerotherapy, which involves the injection of a chemical solution into the vein to cause it to close. Any skin ulcers that develop are treated with compressive bandages that contain antibiotic solutions.