Understanding the Symptoms of Varicose Veins


Varicose veins, often looked at as an unsightly cosmetic issue, can be a result of underlying venous insufficiency that may lead to discomfort and complications if left unseen by a doctor. These enlarged veins, usually found in the legs but can also be elsewhere in the body such as the pelvic region, are caused by weakened or damaged vein walls and malfunctioning valves. Understanding the symptoms of varicose veins is important for intervention reasons and effective management of the situation.

Here are four signs of varicose veins and why detecting these issues early is important.

Visible signs

The most obvious sign of varicose veins is the appearance of the vein on the surface of your skin. These veins often appear uncolored and are bulging out from the skin, resembling twisted rope. While these veins can occur anywhere on the body, they are most prominently found on the legs, ankles, and feet. Varicose veins can be accompanied by spider veins which are smaller web-like veins visible on the surface of the skin. These signs are often the first indication of varicose veins. So, if you notice any of these signs it is time to speak with your physician about treatment.

Physical discomfort

Varicose veins cause a range of physical symptoms that may lead to discomfort and reduced quality of life. Many people with varicose vein issues experience throbbing pain or aching in the legs and lower extremities after prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Some people with these issues describe their legs as feeling heavy, and like they are being weighed down. Swelling is a key issue with varicose veins, particularly around the feet and ankles. This often happens slowly and will get worse throughout the day. These issues will interfere with daily life activities and may worsen unless you seek medical attention. If you feel leg heaviness, have pain or any discomfort in your legs after long periods of sitting or standing contact your physician for a consultation. It is always best to be proactive when you have any issues that disrupt what you normally do daily.

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Skin change

Having varicose veins can lead to changes in the skin surrounding the affected area. Skin may become discolored, appearing reddish-brown or discolored in patches near the vein. People with varicose veins may notice dryness and itchiness around the same area. In severe cases, the skin surrounding the varicose vein may become weak and prone to injury, leading to the development of ulcers or sores that slowly heal. These skin changes serve as a warning sign, indicating that you need professional help from a doctor. If you notice these issues, contact your doctor immediately to prevent future potential dangers to your health.


Varicose veins, if left untreated, can lead to multiple complications and health risks. Venous ulcers, superficial thrombophlebitis or blood clots forming in the superficial veins, deep vein thrombosis, a serious condition where blood clots form in the deep leg veins are all associated with varicose veins. DVT, most importantly, can lead to pulmonary embolism if a clot travels to the lungs posing a life-threatening health risk. Recognizing and addressing varicose veins early will help you prevent these issues and improve your overall health.

Varicose veins manifest through various symptoms that extend beyond cosmetic issues. From visible signs and physical discomfort to skin texture changes and potential complications, the issue of varicose veins requires attention and intervention. Seeking professional medical help and exploring different treatment options are critical steps in managing varicose veins and preventing issues associated with them. By understanding the symptoms and seeking timely medical help, you can alleviate pain, numbness, cramping and potentially dangerous health issues.

Dr. Lawrence Presant

Dr. Lawrence Presant is chief medical officer at Arizona Vein Specialists in Phoenix. He is a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, general surgeon by training and a certified diplomat of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.

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