If you're concerned about the development of varicose veins as you
get older, don't fret. "It's a natural part of aging," says Dr. John
Corson, professor of surgery at the University of Iowa College of
Medicine and staff physician at UI Hospitals and Clinics.
Varicose veins are prominent, bluish, swollen leg veins and can be
at the back of the calf or more usually on the inside of the thigh
and leg, Corson says. Veins become varicose when valves in the veins
closest to the skin's surface don't function correctly.
While both men and women can develop varicose veins, the problem
occurs more often in women. "The vein may become more prominent,
tender to the touch, or itchy. Your leg may ache and your feet may
swell after standing for a period of time," Corson says,
Some people, particularly women, are at greater risk for varicose
veins. If your mother had varicose veins, if you have had several
children, or if you stand for long periods of time, you may be more
likely to develop them, Corson says.
If it looks like a vein is becoming varicose, try wearing support
stockings and elevating your legs as often as possible. "Pregnant
women also can benefit from wearing support stockings and elevating
their legs. Try to stay off your feet. Standing for long periods of
time can aggravate varicose veins," Corson explains. "Take aspirin or
acetaminophen for pain."
If varicose veins become bothersome, it's a good idea to see your
physician. "If the veins function poorly, you may develop skin sores.
That's why it's important to see your physician if you believe you
have symptomatic varicose veins. Bumping or cutting the skin over a
varicose vein could cause severe bleeding. If this happens, elevate
the leg and seek medical attention immediately. Bumping the vein can
also cause the vein wall to develop a blood clot at that site which
can lead to more serious problems," Corson says.
"For severe varicose veins, your physician may recommend surgery
or injection treatments. Surgical treatment completely removes the
affected vein(s). During injection treatment, called sclerotherapy,
the physician injects a solution which causes the vein to collapse.
This is more often used for cosmetic reasons on smaller veins, rather
than on larger varicose veins," he says.
After either treatment, you will have to wear support stockings or
elastic bandages for several weeks. "You should walk as much as
possible, avoid standing, and elevate your legs when resting," Corson
If you have questions about varicose veins, talk to your