Vascular conditions

About vein disease

Varicose veins are common — and treatable.

Portrait of elderly man with hat and vest with illustrated decorative elements

Varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue. Leg vein disease can cause varicose veins and other painful symptoms that can impact how you live. We believe life shouldn’t be limited by pain caused by vein disease, and that’s why we’re here to help you understand your pain and break free from it.

Common signs and symptoms of vein disease1

  • Varicose veins

  • Aching or pain
  • Swelling

  • Cramping
  • Heaviness or tiredness

  • Itching, sores, or ulcers
  • Restlessness

  • Skin changes and/or discoloration

Causes of vein disease

Healthy leg veins have valves that keep blood flowing to the heart. Vein disease develops when the valves stop working properly and cause blood to flow backward and pool in the lower leg veins.

Known risk factors1

  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Current or previous pregnancies
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Leg injury or trauma
  • Lack of exercise
  • A blood clot (deep vein thrombosis)

Visible signs of vein disease

Varicose veins

Patient leg with varicose veins

Leg swelling

Patient legs, one normal and one showing swelling

Skin color and texture changes

Patient leg with skin and texture changes

Venous ulcers

Patient leg with venous ulcers

Photos courtesy of Dr. Charles Dietzek

Diagnosing vein disease

An ultrasound scan is the only definitive way to diagnose vein disease. A technician uses this test to visualize your veins. A doctor will review the test results and evaluate your venous disease by looking at your venous anatomy, how the valves function, any potential reflux, and the extent of your venous disease.

Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) are recognized by many insurance companies, including Medicare and private insurers, as medical conditions.

Early diagnosis is critical.

When left untreated, venous disease can progress into a more serious form of CVI with venous leg ulcers. Ulcers are painful sores or wounds that typically appear near the ankle or lower leg and are brought on from the increased buildup of fluid and blood pressure from veins affected by CVI.2

Patients who receive early vein closure treatment along with compression stocking therapy for venous leg ulcers experienced significantly shorter time to healing and extended time free from ulcers.3

  • 400,000 people or 1% of general population in Canada suffer from venous ulcers.9
  • 70–90% of ulcers below the knee are venous (caused by vein disease).4,5
  • More than 50% of venous ulcers treated are recurrent ulcerations.6
  • Due to pain, mobility limitations, and other consequences, venous leg ulcers have been associated with increased rates of depression and substantial decreases in patient quality of life.7,8

Find a vein disease clinic near you.



Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Available at: Accessed March 28, 2023.


Eberhardt RT, Raffetto JD. Chronic venous insufficiency. Circulation. July 22, 2014;130(4):333–346.


Gohel MS, Heatley F, Liu X, et al. A Randomized Trial of Early Endovenous Ablation in Venous Ulceration. N Engl J Med. May 31, 2018;378(22)2105–2114.


O’Donnell TF Jr, Passman MA, Marston WA, et al. Management of venous leg ulcers: Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Venous Forum. J Vasc. Surg. August 2014;60(2 Suppl):3S–59S.


Rice JB, Desai U, Cummings AKG, et al. Burden of venous leg ulcers in the United States. J Med Econ. May 2014;17(5):347–356.


The Outpatient Wound Clinic Market 2013 Report and Analytics, Net Health Analytics (2010–2012 claims data).


Valencia IC, Falabella A, Kirsner RS, et al. Chronic venous insufficiency and venous leg ulceration. J Am Acad Dermatol. March 2001;44(3):401–421.


Green J, Jester R. Health-related quality of life and chronic venous leg ulceration: part 1. Br J Community Nurs. December 2009;14(12):S12, S14, S16–S17.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.