Varicose veins are squiggly blood vessels that shine blue-purple through the skin. These can be very small blood vessels or bigger swollen vessels that are visible as lumps. Varicose veins can occur in all limbs, but are usually found in the legs. In many cases they cause no symptoms, but sometimes they cause itch, tired legs or leg pain.


How varicose veins arise is not all clear, but it seems mainly related to bad closing valves in the (leg) veins. As a result, the blood cannot flow properly upwards. That causes more accumulation (congestion) of blood, making the veins expand even further. This gradually leads to varicose veins.
The following factors contribute to having varicose veins:


In most cases, varicose veins don’t hurt. However, a person can experience the following signs and symptoms:

Sometimes, a vein may get inflamed. At the location of the varicose vein, a red, swollen, painful, hard strand emerges. When inflamed varicose veins are not treated in time, they can lead to complications, such as phlebitis, deep vein thrombosis, bleeding in the leg and gray-blue discoloration of the ankles.


The diagnosis of varicose veins is sometimes already clear after physical examination. Additional examination will often be done in the form of doppler or duplex ultrasound. The latter examination can usually determine the cause of varicose veins with certainty.
Sometimes, X-rays are made of the veins in the leg. A contrast fluid is used then, which is injected into a vein. The examination provides information about the discharge of blood and the operation of the valves in the deep (not visible) calf veins.


Although varicose veins don’t hurt, most people want to get rid of them because they disfigure their legs. Varicose veins may eventually cause complications. There are several treatments available to reduce the symptoms and/or remove varicose veins:


Varicose veins usually don’t need to be treated. However, it’s impossible to predict whether varicose veins can cause problems. After treatment or removal of varicose veins, new varicose veins may arise again.


Tips to prevent varicose veins: