Varicose veins

Varicose veins
Leg Before 1.jpg
Leg affected by varicose veins
SpecialtyVascular surgery, dermatology[1]
SymptomsNone, fullness, pain in the area[2]
ComplicationsBleeding , superficial thrombophlebitis[2][1]
Risk factorsObesity, not enough exercise, leg trauma, family history, pregnancy[3]
Diagnostic methodBased on examination[2]
Differential diagnosisArterial insufficiency, peripheral neuritis[4]
TreatmentCompression stockings, exercise, sclerotherapy, surgery[2][3]
PrognosisCommonly reoccur[2]
FrequencyVery common[3]

Varicose veins are superficial veins that have become enlarged and twisted.[2][1] Typically they occur just under the skin in the legs.[3] Usually they result in few symptoms but some may experience fullness or pain in the area.[2] Complications may include bleeding or superficial thrombophlebitis.[2][1] When varices occur in the scrotum it is known as a varicocele while those around the anus are known as hemorrhoids.[1]

Often there is no specific cause.[2] Risk factors include obesity, not enough exercise, leg trauma, and a family history of the condition.[3] They also occur more commonly in pregnancy.[3] Occasionally they result from chronic venous insufficiency.[2] The underlying mechanism involves weak or damaged valves in the veins.[1] Diagnosis is typically by examination and may be supported by ultrasound.[2] In contrast spider veins involve the capillaries and are smaller.[1][5]

Treatment may involve life-style changes or medical procedures with the goal of improving symptoms and appearance.[1] Life-style changes may include compression stockings, exercise, elevating the legs, and weight loss.[1] Medical procedures include sclerotherapy, laser surgery, and vein stripping.[2][1] Following treatment there is often reoccurrence.[2]

Varicose veins are very common, affected about 30% of people at some point in time.[3][6] They become more common with age.[3] Women are affected about twice as often as men.[5] Varicose veins has been described throughout history and have been treated with surgery since at least A.D. 400.[7]

Signs and symptoms

  • Aching, heavy legs.[8]
  • Appearance of spider veins (telangiectasia) in the affected leg.
  • Ankle swelling, especially in the evening.[8]
  • A brownish-yellow shiny skin discoloration near the affected veins.
  • Redness, dryness, and itchiness of areas of skin, termed stasis dermatitis or venous eczema, because of waste products building up in the leg.
  • Cramps[9] may develop especially when making a sudden move as standing up.
  • Minor injuries to the area may bleed more than normal or take a long time to heal.
  • In some people the skin above the ankle may shrink (lipodermatosclerosis) because the fat underneath the skin becomes hard.
  • Restless legs syndrome appears to be a common overlapping clinical syndrome in people with varicose veins and other chronic venous insufficiency.
  • Whitened, irregular scar-like patches can appear at the ankles. This is known as atrophie blanche.


Most varicose veins are reasonably benign, but severe varicosities can lead to major complications, due to the poor circulation through the affected limb.

  • Pain, tenderness, heaviness, inability to walk or stand for long hours, thus hindering work
  • Skin conditions / dermatitis which could predispose skin loss
  • Skin ulcers especially near the ankle, usually referred to as venous ulcers.
  • Development of carcinoma or sarcoma in longstanding venous ulcers. Over 100 reported cases of malignant transformation have been reported at a rate reported as 0.4% to 1%.[10]
  • Severe bleeding from minor trauma, of particular concern in the elderly.
  • Blood clotting within affected veins, termed superficial thrombophlebitis. These are frequently isolated to the superficial veins, but can extend into deep veins, becoming a more serious problem.
  • Acute fat necrosis can occur, especially at the ankle of overweight people with varicose veins. Females have a higher tendency of being affected than males.
Other Languages
العربية: دوالي وريدية
беларуская: Варыкоз
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Варыкоз
български: Разширени вени
català: Variu
dansk: Åreknude
Deutsch: Krampfader
ދިވެހިބަސް: ލޭނާރު ފުއްޕުން
Ελληνικά: Κιρσοί
español: Variz
Esperanto: Variko
euskara: Barize
فارسی: واریس
français: Varice
한국어: 정맥류
hrvatski: Proširene vene
Ido: Variko
italiano: Varicosi
עברית: דליות
македонски: Проширени вени
Nederlands: Spatader
日本語: 静脈瘤
norsk: Åreknuter
norsk nynorsk: Åreknutar
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Venalarning varikoz kengayishi
português: Variz
română: Varice
Simple English: Varicose veins
slovenščina: Krčne žile
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Proširene vene
suomi: Suonikohju
svenska: Åderbråck
українська: Варикоз
中文: 靜脈曲張