Varicose Vein Symptoms

Varicose Vein Symptoms

Varicose veins are a very common form of Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). They occur when valves found inside the vein begin to fail, and the flow of blood back to the heart becomes impaired

This can cause pooling of blood, which puts the veins under increased pressure and leads to the sudden or gradual appearance of larger varicose veins or smaller thread or spider veins

Varicose veins are not initially dangerous. They are usually, at worst, unsightly and may cause minor discomfort. But CVI is a progressive disease and, if left untreated altogether, varicose veins can ultimately cause a range of far more serious and lasting problems

Initial Symptoms

Poor circulation

Some of the earliest signs of vein insufficiency can be cold or numb feet and toes, or tingling in the feet and legs. This happens when the tissues and nerves do not receive enough oxygen due to the inadequate flow of blood

Swelling and cramps

When blood starts pooling in the veins due to poor circulation, a build-up of fluid sometimes referred to as ‘venous-oedema’ leads to swelling, predominantly in the feet or ankles. This is one of the main indicators of varicose veins that may not be immediately visible

Sudden cramps in the thigh or calf are another sign to look out for. Generally, they occur after a long walk or after standing for a long time. However, you may also experience this symptom at night when your body has relaxed

Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)

Also known as Willis-Ekbom Disease, this condition causes an irresistible urge to move your legs, and most patients see an improvement after undergoing varicose vein treatment

"Heavy” legs

Constantly tired and ‘heavy’ feeling legs could be a sign of varicose veins, especially if it’s not due to recent exercise or exertion. The lack of proper blood flow through the legs, feet or ankles can cause a feeling of fatigue

Secondary Symptoms

Burning, throbbing, or itchy veins

Pooled blood in the blocked veins may leak out into the vessels, leading to a lack of oxygen reaching the tissue in the surrounding area. This results in a constant itching, and sometimes even a painful burning or throbbing sensation, with the skin possibly becoming dry, red or inflamed, and maybe warm to the touch. It’s a form of dermatitis that is frequently mistaken for skin dryness and cannot be treated by over-the-counter skin products

Broken or discoloured skin

This is also a result of poor oxygenation. The skin around varicose veins can sometimes become thinner and may acquire a shiny appearance. It is not uncommon for the skin to also become harder and drier, sometimes to the point of cracking or discolouring. Broken skin at the site of varicose veins can lead to further complications, such as infections

More Severe Symptoms

Venous ulcers

When the skin above varicose veins breaks, various complications can occur. It can take a long time for any bleeding to stop and for any wound to heal

These ulcers are caused by a prolonged build-up of fluid in the tissue surrounding the swollen veins, and tend to initially appear red or inflamed. But when the fluid starts to leak, and the skin at the surface begins to die, it becomes very difficult to prevent the wound from reopening or to avoid the risk of infection. The vast majority of ulcers in the legs and feet are caused by vein disease

May-Thurner Syndrome

This condition appears as a swelling of the left leg and is caused by a large artery in the abdomen putting pressure on a large, nearby vein. This restricts blood flow from the leg to the heart. Besides swelling, the condition can develop into DVT (below). May-Thurner Syndrome is more common in women and tends to occur more frequently during pregnancy

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

This is among the most serious symptoms, potentially leading to severe complications. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep inside the body. The damaged area swells up, can feel warm, and the skin surrounding it may also become red. This can be potentially life-threatening, as some blood clots may travel to the lungs through the bloodstream and cause a pulmonary embolism. This can cause permanent lung damage and can, in turn, trigger a heart attack and potentially death

Treatment Is Available

Have you experienced any of the symptoms mentioned above? The earlier you seek help, the easier it is to treat any potential vein problems. You can book an initial consultation to speak with one of our specialists for a diagnosis and more information by clicking the link below

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I just cover my varicose veins up?

It is possible to cover varicose veins on the legs and feet to hide them from view. Apart from the obvious cover provided by long skirts, trousers and socks, it’s also possible to use coloured concealer as ‘camouflage makeup’

However, the damaged veins will remain until they’re eventually treated, which means that choosing to simply cover them is a commitment to constantly doing so, and may lead to complications if the condition worsens. For this reason it may be preferable to have your varicose veins treated and permanently removed

Are there any natural remedies for treating varicose veins?

There aren’t any effective natural remedies for varicose veins. Some people may suggest trying apple cider vinegar, coconut oil or vitamin C. Unfortunately none of these things can affect the damaged veins that are trapped under the skin

The only way to remove them is to collapse the veins so that the body can absorb them, as happens with our treatment options

What are the best topical creams to use on my varicose veins?

While topical creams may temporarily mask or cover varicose veins, none of them have any effect on the veins themselves. Retinoid creams may temporarily obscure the veins, but they will reappear as soon as the effects wear off

Moisturisers and other skin creams are great for the overall health of your skin, but none of them will do anything to varicose veins, which are lying too deeply underneath the surface of the skin for creams to have any effect

Will my varicose veins just fade away over time?

Varicose veins have a tendency to get worse over time, rather than better. This is because the cause of the issue isn’t being addressed. As more veins become damaged, the number and extent of damaged veins is likely to grow rather than shrink. The treatments offered by UK Vein Clinic encourage the body to naturally absorb the spider veins but, without the initial ‘push’ given by the treatments, this isn’t something that your body can do on its own

Where to find us

We're pleased to be able to provide our world-class varicose vein treatment in a variety of places throughout the United Kingdom. Learn more about your treatment options, including endovenous radio-frequency ablation (EVRF) and foam sclerotherapy, at the clinic closest to you


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