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Varicose veins and swollen legs

Hi, I have varicose veins and my legs have started swelling a lot, which they never used to do. I do typical things like putting my feet up whenever I can. I experience a lot of pain when I stand for a long time. Can I get a treatment for it? What kind of treatment can I get? And where can I get it? Thank you for your help

16 September 2019

Thank you for your message. Varicose veins generally appear on the legs and may cause aching, heavy or throbbing sensations. The veins can have a purple or blue colour to them, and can bulge and look as if they have lumps within them. Often varicose veins do not cause any discomfort, and if this is the cases, no treatment is usually required.

However, some people can experience symptoms such as swelling to the feet and ankles, muscles cramps, especially at night, and maybe also find a change in their skin over the affected veins. Any discomfort felt isn't usually related to the size of the vein, sometimes smaller varicose veins can cause more aching than larger veins. The symptoms are usually worse during warm weather or if you've been standing up for long periods of time. They may improve when you walk around or if you rest and raise your legs.

As you are experiencing discomfort from varicose veins, it would be wise to seek advice from your GP in the first instance. If they feel treatment is necessary, they may initially recommend up to 6 months of using compression stockings, taking regular exercise and elevating the affected area when resting.

If your varicose veins are still causing you pain or discomfort, or they cause complications, they can be treated in several ways. Your doctor will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you based on the size and position of the vein.

The most common treatment options for varicose veins include:

• endothermal ablation – where heat is used to seal affected veins

• sclerotherapy – this uses special foam to close the veins

• ligation and stripping – the affected veins are surgically removed

If the varicose veins aren’t causing discomfort but you'd like them treated for cosmetic reasons, it's unlikely you'll be able to on the NHS or through your insurer. You will probably have to pay for this treatment privately, and can find out more information from your nearest private hospital about their treatment options.

You may also be interested in...

Varicose veins - NHS factsheet

Itchy skin along varicose vein - AXA Health

Answered by the Health at Hand team.

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