Varicose Veins

Symptoms that indicate varicose veins need treatment.

Varicose veins are enlarged veins in the legs. They are often visible through the skin as unsightly twisting blue lines. They are very common, particularly in older women. They are caused by weak valves in the veins that allow blood to back up in the veins and distend them. Common causes include genetics, standing for long periods of time, hormones, and obesity.


Varicose veins can cause no symptoms, minor symptoms, or severe symptoms. Minor symptoms include aching, burning, swelling of the feet, and tired feelings in the legs, particularly after standing for a long period of time. Severe symptoms include:

Swelling of the calf
Changes in the color of the skin on the legs
Sores on the skin of the legs
Scaling, bleeding, or inflammation of the skin on the legs

Varicose veins that cause no or only minor symptoms do not need treatment. They can be treated with an assortment of minimally invasive procedures such as lasers or sclerotherapy which are quite successful in removing the veins with few side effects. The primary goal of such treatment is to make the legs look better.

Deep vein thrombosis

Varicose veins that are causing severe symptoms may need treatment for medical reasons. One concern is that a blockage of a deep leg vein (deep vein thrombosis) is causing the varicose veins and the symptoms. Deep vein thrombosis can be life- and/or limb- threatening because it blocks circulation of blood through the leg. If the clot that is blocking the vein becomes dislodged, it can travel to the heart and lungs and cause death.

Sores that develop on the skin due to severe varicose veins are very difficult to heal. Unhealed sores are at high risk of becoming infected. A serious infection may require surgery or even amputation.

Bottom line, don’t dismiss varicose veins as just a cosmetic problem. If your varicose veins are causing symptoms severe enough to affect your daily life, such as pain, swelling, or any changes to the skin, it’s time to consult a doctor. At FirstCare Medical Center our New Paltz and Highland physicians are familiar with varicose vein problems, and at Essence MediSpa our cosmetic dermatologist can treat cosmetically undesirable veins quickly and with minimal discomfort and no down time using sclerotherapy and laser vein treatments.

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