Varicose veins usually happen in your feet and legs. They are enlarged and look blue or purple and can be bumpy, twisted, or bulging. They can cause pain, amongst a variety of other symptoms. While treatment is not always necessary, there are many options to get rid of or ease the appearance or symptoms of your varicose veins.

When is treatment necessary for varicose veins?

Varicose veins are not usually a cause for concern. Often, you may not even need to visit a doctor to treat them. The three reasons people get treatment for their varicose veins are:

  • To ease symptoms. Some cases of varicose veins do cause aching, swollen lower extremities, burning, throbbing, cramping, dryness, or itchiness. If you experience these symptoms, it is recommended that you seek treatment in order to ease the pain and discomfort.
  • Treat complications. Varicose veins sometimes lead to other health concerns like ulcers, swelling, or discoloration of the skin. If any of these things happen, it is best that you treat them.
  • Cosmetic fix. Even if your varicose veins are not causing you pain, they still may have a startling appearance. If you’d like to treat your varicose veins in order to improve the way they look, you can do so.

What are traditional treatments for varicose veins?

These are the most common treatments for varicose veins:

Home treatments and lifestyle changes. Exercising, losing weight, and staying off your feet for long periods of time can help. Wearing compression socks during the day also helps treat varicose veins by squeezing your veins and helping to unclog the blood. Compression socks are readily available at most drug stores.

Vein surgery. Typically, this surgery will involve an incision near your groin and an incision near your knee with additional incisions throughout your legs to remove the varicosities. There are many techniques for mitigating postoperative pain in the prominent veins of both your legs. Other surgeries you could get can involve your surgeon manually tying off varicose veins in your legs.

Additionally, when you get varicose veins while pregnant, they usually go away without treatment. However, if they are still visible within a year of delivery, seek medical treatment.

Newer treatments for varicose veins

Some of the newer or relatively newer procedures to treat varicose veins are:

Sclerotherapy. To do this, your provider will inject your affected veins with a solution that closes your small to medium veins. Sclerotherapy can be used to treat more prominent veins, but the formula must be made from foam. You may need to get multiple injections of this solution or return to your doctor for treatment several times. Sclerotherapy takes weeks to heal your veins fully.

Laser treatments. In these treatments, your doctor shines a laser into your vein, which will make the vein slowly disappear. There is no surgery or insertion of needles involved in this process. It is only used to treat smaller veins. You can also try endovenous laser therapy, which involves inserting a large fiber into your vein. Then lasers are shot through the fiber in order to close up the vein.

Catheter procedures using lasers or radiofrequency. A very popular treatment for large varicose veins involves inserting a heated catheter into varicose veins. The catheter can be heated by radiofrequency or lasers. Then, when the catheter gets pulled out, it collapses and seals the vein.

Usually, the size of your varicose vein will determine what treatment you get. In general, this breaks down in the following ways:

  • Larger veins. These types of veins are treated with surgery, laser treatments, or radiofrequency. Often, your doctor might employ a variety of treatments for large varicose veins.
  • Minor to medium veins. Typically, these can be treated with sclerotherapy or laser to skin therapy.

Be warned that most of these procedures can cause lingering scarring or discoloration. Additionally, you might need to have other treatments to remove unneeded veins, complications, or treatments for the underlying cause of your varicose veins.

Alternative treatments for varicose veins

In addition to medical treatments, there are several popular alternative medicine treatments. While they are not well studied, they are quite common. Most of them treat chronic venous insufficiency rather than varicose veins because often, the two are linked.

Some of the alternative medicine therapies are:

  • Horse chestnut
  • Butcher’s broom
  • Grape leaves, grape sap, grape seed, and grape fruits
  • Sweet clover
  • Yoga

If you are using any of these as a treatment for your varicose veins, be sure to tell your doctor so that any herb or therapy you are using does not interfere with medications or other medicines.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/3/2021
References
Mayo Clinic: "Varicose veins."

NHS: "Varicose veins."

Stanford Health Care: "Treatment for Varicose Veins."