Varicose Veins: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are swollen and twisted veins, occurring primarily in the legs. These veins become enlarged due to an accumulation of blood, often due to malfunctioning valves within the veins. Normally, these valves ensure blood flows in one direction—towards the heart. When they fail or weaken, blood can pool in the veins, leading to their characteristic bulging and twisting.

While varicose veins are generally not considered a severe medical condition, they can have significant physical and psychological impacts. Physically, individuals with varicose veins may experience a range of discomforts. These can include feelings of heaviness or aching in the affected legs, particularly after long periods of standing or sitting. Itching around the veins and muscle cramps during the night are also common. In more severe cases, the skin around the veins can become swollen, leading to painful ulcers, especially near the ankles.

From a psychological perspective, the noticeable appearance of varicose veins can also impact an individual's self-esteem and quality of life. These veins can be quite prominent and visible, sometimes presenting a blue or dark purple coloration and a noticeably bulging structure. This conspicuous appearance can lead to self-consciousness, embarrassment, or distress, particularly in social situations or when wearing clothing that exposes the legs, such as shorts or skirts.

While varicose veins are not typically a grave health concern, they can cause physical discomfort and emotional distress due to their appearance. This combination of factors underscores the importance of understanding and appropriately managing this common condition.

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are a less severe variant of varicose veins. They are smaller and often resemble a sunburst or spider web. These veins are usually red or blue and are commonly located on the face and legs.

Varicose veins symptoms

Varicose veins can cause various symptoms, including:

  • Changes in skin color
  • Leg sores
  • Skin rashes
  • Sensations like heaviness, burning or aching in the legs
  • In severe cases, long-term mild swelling, ulcers, and non-healing sores

Varicose veins causes and risk factors

Varicose veins primarily develop due to increased blood pressure within the veins, particularly those near the skin's surface. The one-way valves in these veins are designed to facilitate blood flow back to the heart. When these valves are weakened or damaged, blood can accumulate, causing the veins to enlarge. This weakening or damage can occur due to various factors, significantly impacting the efficiency of these valves.

Core Causes of Varicose Veins:

  • Prolonged Sitting or Standing: Spending extended periods in these positions increases gravitational pressure on leg veins, straining the valves and leading to their eventual failure.
  • Aging: Over time, valves in the veins may lose elasticity and become less efficient, increasing the risk of varicose veins.
  • Hormonal Changes: Hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, menstruation, and menopause can relax vein walls, making valves more prone to dysfunction.
  • Lifestyle Factors: A sedentary lifestyle can lead to poor circulation, further exacerbating the risk of developing varicose veins.

Key Risk Factors:

  • Genetics: A family history of varicose veins suggests a genetic element in their formation.
  • Body Weight: Being overweight or obese adds extra pressure on the veins, particularly in the legs.
  • Gender: Females tend to have a higher incidence of varicose veins, possibly due to hormonal influences.
  • Physical Inactivity: Lack of exercise can weaken the venous circulation, increasing the risk of varicose veins.
  • Leg Injuries: Trauma to the legs can directly affect the veins, leading to varicose veins.
  • Pregnancy: The increased blood volume and changes in the hormones during pregnancy can significantly stress the leg veins.
  • Smoking: Smoking affects blood flow and can weaken the vein walls.
  • Oral Contraceptives and Hormone Replacement Therapy: These can affect hormonal balance and potentially weaken vein walls.

Understanding these causes and risk factors is vital for preventing and managing varicose veins. By acknowledging these elements, individuals can make informed decisions to reduce the likelihood of developing varicose veins or effectively manage existing conditions.


Diagnosis typically involves a medical history review and a physical examination. Diagnostic procedures may include duplex ultrasound, which combines two types of ultrasound to examine blood flow and vein structure in the legs.

Varicose veins treatment

Varicose veins treatments

The treatment of varicose veins is tailored to each individual, considering factors such as age, overall health, and the severity of the condition. Various treatment options are available, each with its indications and effectiveness.

  1. Leg Elevation: This simple and non-invasive approach involves elevating the legs above the level of the heart. This helps reduce venous pressure, facilitating blood flow back towards the heart and reducing swelling and discomfort.
  2. Compression Stockings: Wearing specially designed elastic stockings exerts gentle pressure on the legs. This compression supports the veins, helps the muscles and veins move blood more efficiently, and can significantly alleviate symptoms.
  3. Sclerotherapy: This procedure involves injecting a solution directly into the varicose veins, causing them to collapse and fade over time. It's particularly effective for small to medium-sized varicose veins and is widely used for its efficacy and minimal invasiveness.
  4. Thermal Ablation: Techniques such as laser or radiofrequency ablation involve using heat to close off the affected veins. A catheter delivers heat to the vein, causing it to seal shut. This method is often preferred for its precision and reduced recovery time.
  5. Vein Stripping or Microphlebectomy Surgeries: Surgical options such as microphlebectomy or vein stripping may be recommended in more serious cases. Vein stripping involves surgically removing the affected vein, while microphlebectomy uses small incisions to remove smaller varicose veins.

Understanding Possible Complications

Although varicose vein treatments are generally safe, they are not without potential complications. It's important to understand these risks:

  1. Vein Inflammation (Phlebitis): This condition involves vein inflammation, which can be painful and may require medical treatment.
  2. Blood Clots: Post-treatment, there's a risk of blood clots forming in the veins, which might require immediate medical attention.

Each treatment option carries its own set of potential side effects and complications, which should be discussed thoroughly with a healthcare provider. This discussion should include an evaluation of the patient's specific circumstances, including the potential risks and benefits of each treatment method. Proper medical assessment and planning can significantly reduce the likelihood of complications and ensure the most effective treatment for varicose veins.

How to prevent varicose veins

Various effective strategies can be implemented to prevent the development or progression of varicose veins. These preventive measures are primarily designed to enhance blood circulation and support overall vein health, which in turn helps alleviate the pressure in the leg veins.

  1. Maintaining a Healthy Weight: Keeping body weight within a healthy range is crucial. Excess weight puts additional pressure on the veins, particularly in the legs, exacerbating the risk of varicose veins.
  2. Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity, such as yoga, walking, swimming, or cycling, can improve overall circulation and vein strength. Exercise also helps in maintaining a healthy weight.
  3. Elevating the Feet: While sitting, elevate your feet above the level of your heart. This position helps reduce the pressure in the leg veins and assists with blood flow back to the heart.
  4. Avoiding Leg Crossing: When sitting for extended periods, avoid crossing your legs. This position can restrict blood flow to the legs and increase the risk of varicose veins.
  5. Wearing Loose Clothing: Tight clothing, especially around the waist, legs, and groin area, can restrict blood flow, leading to increased pressure on the veins.
  6. Using Compression Socks: Incorporating compression socks or stockings into your daily routine can be highly beneficial. These garments apply gentle pressure to the legs, promoting better blood flow and preventing blood pooling. They are particularly useful for people who stand or sit for long periods. 

Try Viasox Compression Socks for Varicose Veins

If you're experiencing the discomfort of varicose veins, Viasox compression socks could offer a practical solution. These socks apply gentle compression to your legs, enhancing blood circulation and preventing fluid accumulation in the lower extremities. Viasox stands out for its effectiveness and range of colors and designs, allowing you to choose options that align with your taste. For any questions, our customer service team is ready to assist you.

Back to blog

Be the first to get our new designs via SMS!

We love to tease you with sneak peeks of our socks of the Month and more!

  • vitamin capsules spilling out of a bottle

    Vitamins That May Help To Treat Neuropathy Symptoms

    B vitamins such as B1, B6 and B12 are known to help with neuropathy symptoms....

    Learn More 
  • A patient talking to a doctor

    Does Peripheral Neuropathy Come And Go?

    Hard to diagnose & seldom reversible, the symptoms of peripheral neuropathy...

    Learn More 
  • A man listening to a mobile phone

    Spotting The Early Warning Signs Of Peripheral Neuropathy

    Diabetes can lead to a range of conditions such as peripheral neuropathy....

    Learn More 
  • Acupuncture

    Can Acupuncture Help With Diabetes?

    Acupuncture — an ancient Chinese medicine practice — has been used for hundreds of years to help treat...

    Learn More 


    Viasox are the worlds’ first special diabetic socks designed with two things in mind - fashion and practicality. We aim to provide you with high-quality socks that aren’t dowdy and boring like most diabetic socks currently on the market.

    Our socks come in a great variety of colors and patterns on the calf which really bring out your personality and make it easier to complete your outfit! Show off your fancy socks knowing that they’re made especially for you and say goodbye to the boring old black & white socks!

    Our goal is to give everyone the ability to live comfortably by promoting diabetes care, acceptance, and support.