Varicose Veins: What you should know

Author: Liz Kovac

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that bulge from beneath the surface of the skin. Although they can develop anywhere in the body, they are most often found on the legs and ankles. “Veins have one-way valves that blood travels through,” said Dr. Mohamed Jaber, Interventional Radiologist at McLaren Lapeer Region. “If the walls of a vein become elastic, the valves tend to get weaker. A valve in this weakened state can cause blood to leak backward and flow in the opposite direction. When this occurs, blood accumulates in the vein, which causes the vein’s swollen appearance.”

Factors that can contribute to varicose veins include:

• Age

• Obesity

• Pregnancy

• Long periods of standing over several years

• Limited movement

When to call a doctor

Consider calling your doctor if you experience the following:

• Severe pain and swelling of the legs

• Heaviness or achiness in legs after activity

• Varicose veins bleeding easily on their own

• The skin surrounding the varicose veins is dry, itchy, or inflamed.

• Varicose veins are red in color and warm and tender to the touch

“Your doctor may order an ultrasound of your veins to check the direction of blood flow in the veins and determine if there are blood clots or vein obstructions,” said Dr. Jaber.

Treatments for varicose veins

There are several treatments available for varicose veins that focus on closing or collapsing the veins themselves. Treatments range from cosmetic, to non-invasive, and invasive.

How can I learn more?

If you are concerned about your varicose veins, visit your primary care provider or call (810) 667-5714 for a physician referral.