Varicose Veins

Institutes & Services > TriHealth Heart Institute

What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins, which primarily form in the veins of the legs, are dilated, swollen, elongated and twisted blood vessels that have filled with an abnormal collection of blood. When someone has varicose veins, their valves do not function properly, allowing blood to stay in the vein, instead of moving toward the heart. Blood that pools causes the blood to swell.

Varicose Veins: Risk Factors

Varicose veins usually affect women. Other risk factors include:

  • Defective valves from birth (congenitally defective valves)
  • Pregnancy (starting in the first trimester)
  • Thrombophlebitis
  • Working in a job that requires standing for longs periods of time.

These veins may also form during the last 14 days of the menstrual cycle.

Varicose Veins: Symptoms

An individual with varicose veins may experience the following symptoms:

  • Fullness, heaviness, aching and sometimes pain in the legs
  • Visible, swollen veins
  • Mild swelling of ankles
  • Brown color of the skin at the ankles (in more severe cases)
  • Skin ulcers near the ankle (in more severe cases)

How are Varicose Veins Treated at TriHealth?

The diagnosis of varicose veins is often made based on the appearance of the legs veins when you are standing or sitting with your legs dangling.

Your doctor may order a duplex ultrasound exam of the extremity to see how blood moves through your arteries and veins and to rule out other problems with the legs (a blood clot, for example)

Your doctor will first recommend that you:

  • Avoid standing for too long
  • Raise your legs when resting or sleeping
  • Wear elastic support hose

In some cases, you may need surgery or other treatment. These cases include:

  • Leg pain, which may feel heavy or tired
  • Skin sores that are caused by poor blood flow through the veins
  • Improving the appearance of the legs
  • Thickening and hardening of the skin in the legs and ankles

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