What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are visible, enlarged superficial veins (under the skin’s surface) that look twisted like a rope. “Varicose” means abnormally swollen or unusually enlarged. Any superficial veins can be varicose but commonly form in the lower body and leg veins because daily activities like standing and walking add pressure to these veins.

Varicose veins are a common condition that around 25 percent of adults have. While unsightly, varicose veins are no serious medical concern. Most often, varicose or smaller, milder spider veins are only a cosmetic concern and have no problematic symptoms. However, serious cases of varicose veins can cause aching pain, severe discomfort, and additional health problems like blood clots.

Treatment for varicose veins can be either at-home self-care or in-office procedures performed by a doctor. Surgery is also an option for severe cases. You can easily treat varicose veins but cannot stop them from returning.

Get tested for Varicose Veins – and begin treatment ASAP

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Increased blood pressure in superficial veins causes them to become varicose.

Blood flows throughout our body through our veins and arteries. Valves in the veins open to let blood flow toward the heart. Then they close to prevent blood from flowing backward and pooling.

Veins work against gravity to move blood up to the heart. Valves that are damaged or weak allow blood to flow backward. Then, the veins may swell, twist, and become varicose.

Standing or sitting in the same position for a long time can increase pressure in the veins. The increased pressure can weaken vein walls and damage valves.

Risk Factors For Developing Varicose Veins


Smoking and tobacco use increases the risk of vascular diseases and conditions because smoking narrows the veins. Over time, the veins become weaker, and blood can pool more easily.


Over time, normal wear and tear on the valves in the veins can cause them to weaken. When the valves become weak, blood can collect in the veins and cause them to expand.


Women are at a higher risk than men of developing varicose veins due to the natural fluctuations in the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormonal changes around a menstrual period or during menopause or pregnancy may prevent valves from closing properly. Furthermore, hormone treatments, like birth control, may also lead to varicose veins.


A body mass index (BMI) over 30 strains blood veins in the pelvis and legs. Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity per day to lower your risk.


If close blood relatives have had varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them. 


A sedentary lifestyle contributes to a higher risk of weakened veins. When leg and calf muscles contract with leg movement, it promotes blood flow, which decreases the risk of varicose veins. Therefore, reducing muscle contractions and movement lead to poor blood flow and an increased risk of blood pooling. Since movement is a controllable risk factor, you can minimize risk by making lifestyle adjustments.

Varicose Veins Symptoms

  • Twisted, bulging veins
  • Discolored dark purple or blue veins
  • Skin discoloration around a bulging vein
  • Sores or rashes on the legs
  • Itchiness around a vein
  • Achy or heavy-feeling legs
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swollen legs
  • Burning or throbbing in the lower legs
  • Worsened symptoms after prolonged periods of sitting or standing

Varicose Vein Treatment Options

There are many treatment options available to you at Michigan Vascular. Schedule a free consultation to see what options are best for you.

Lifestyle changes: First, your provider will likely suggest lifestyle changes that will reduce certain risk factors, like regular exercise and weight loss.

Leg elevation: Raising your feet above heart level for 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times daily, can reduce leg swelling and relieve other minor symptoms.

Compression stockings: Compression socks, in general, improve blood circulation, prevent blood from pooling in the legs, and reduce swelling. Wearing prescription-strength compression stockings during the day can help relieve symptoms from varicose veins. Be sure to wear compression garments properly to prevent cutting off blood circulation.

Sclerotherapy: During an in-office visit, a healthcare provider injects a saline or chemical foam solution into the varicose veins that causes them to close off. The veins should fade in a few weeks, though you may need more than one sclerotherapy treatment.

Laser therapy: Strong bursts of light from a laser can cause varicose veins to fade away gradually without making incisions or using needles.

Radiofrequency or thermal ablation: For more prominent varicose veins, your provider will insert a catheter into a varicose vein and heat the tip of the catheter through radiofrequency or laser energy. The heat causes the vein to collapse and close. Blood will then redirect itself to other veins.

Ligation and vein stripping: During the surgical procedure, a healthcare provider will tie off a varicose vein before it meets a deep vein and remove it with small cuts. This procedure does not affect blood flow because the blood will redirect itself when the other vein is removed.

Ambulatory phlebectomy: A doctor will numb the area to be treated and create tiny skin punctures through which they will remove the small varicose veins. The incisions typically leave minimal scarring.

If you have any questions, please contact us

If you have any questions, please contact us