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Veins carry blood from the body back to the heart so blood should flow in only one direction in the veins. Varicose veins result from high pressures in the superficial veins (venous hypertension). The high pressure may result from malfunction of valves in the superficial veins allowing backflow of blood or abnormal communication with deeper veins that naturally have higher pressures. Your risk of developing varicose veins is increased if you have relatives with varicose veins, your job requires long periods of standing, or you are overweight. The incidence of varicose veins also increases with age.
Symptoms of varicose veins include:
- Aching, Burning or Throbbing
- Restless legs
If left untreated, venous hyptertension can result in thickening of the skin, increased pigmentation, eczema, and ulceration.
A careful evaluation is necessary prior to starting treatment of varicose veins to determine if significant venous hypertension is present. The evaluation includes a history and physical examination. If indicated, a duplex ultrasound exam is done of the veins to determine the venous anatomy and look for incompetent valves and perforating/connecting veins.
Varicose veins can be treated but the underlying disorder that caused the veins to dilate cannot be cured. Likewise, if the visible varicose veins are treated without treating the defective valves or connections to the deep system, new varicose veins will quickly develop. The treatment for varicose veins depends on the severity and underlying cause of the varicosities.