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Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin. They usually occur in the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body. Hemorrhoids are a type of varicose vein.
Your veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins.
Varicose veins are very common. You are more at risk if you are older, a female, obese, don't exercise or have a family history. They can also be more common in pregnancy.
Doctors often diagnose varicose veins from a physical exam. Sometimes you may need additional tests.
Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting, and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from getting worse. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding long periods of standing can also help. If varicose veins are painful or you don't like the way they look, your doctor may recommend procedures to remove them.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- How Are Varicose Veins Diagnosed? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- Venography (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology) Available in Spanish
- Venous Ultrasound (Extremities) (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology) Available in Spanish
- What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Varicose Veins? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
Treatments and Therapies
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery)
- Bilberry (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Horse Chestnut (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- How Are Varicose Veins Treated? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)
- JAMA Patient Page: Treatment of Varicose Veins (American Medical Association) - PDF
- Sclerotherapy of Varicose Veins and Spider Veins (Radiological Society of North America, American College of Radiology) Available in Spanish
- Spider Vein Removal (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research)
- Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins) (Radiological Society of North America) Available in Spanish
- Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency (Society of Interventional Radiology)
- Spider Veins (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Glossary (Vascular Cures)
- Varicocele (Nemours Foundation)
- Why Do Some Pregnant Women Get Varicose Veins? (Nemours Foundation)
- Varicose Veins and Other Vein Disorders (AGS Foundation for Health in Aging)