Varicose veins

Causes of varicose veins
Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside the veins stop working properly.

In a healthy vein, blood flows smoothly to the heart. The blood is prevented from flowing backwards by a series of tiny valves that open and close to let blood through.

If the valves weaken or are damaged, the blood can flow backwards and collect in the vein, eventually causing it to be swollen and enlarged (varicose).

Certain things can increase your chances of developing varicose veins, such as:

being female
having a close family member with varicose veins
being older
being overweight
having a job that involves long periods of standing
being pregnant
other conditions
Read about the causes of varicose veins.

Treating varicose veins
If treatment is necessary, your doctor may first recommend using compression stockings, taking regular exercise and elevating the affected area when resting.

If your varicose veins are still causing you pain or discomfort, or they cause complications, they can be treated in several ways.

The most common treatment options include:

endothermal ablation – where heat is used to seal affected veins
sclerotherapy – this uses special foam to close the veins
ligation and stripping – the affected veins are surgically removed
It’s unlikely you’ll receive treatment on the NHS for cosmetic reasons – you’ll have to pay for cosmetic treatment privately.

If you do feel you require treatment, it might help if you print out treatment options for varicose veins to discuss with the GP.