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Understand why varicose veins
aren't just a cosmetic issue.


Varicose veins are often misunderstood as simply a cosmetic issue, but when left untreated, they can progress into a more serious condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).1


Healthy leg veins have valves that keep blood flowing to the heart. Vein disease develops when the valves stop working properly and allow blood to flow backward (i.e., reflux) and pool in the lower leg veins. 

Healthy and Diseased Varicose Veins

Signs and Symptoms3

  • Varicose veins
  • Aching or pain
  • Swelling
  • Cramping
  • Heaviness or tiredness
  • Itching
  • Restlessness
  • Skin changes
  • Brown, colored skin
  • Open sores or ulcers

Risk Factors3

  • Family history
  • Lack of exercise
  • Leg injury or trauma
  • Prolonged sitting or standing
  • Obesity or excess weight
  • Current or previous pregnancies
  • Smoking


The goal of treatment for vein disease is to reduce or stop the backward flow of blood.

The following may be prescribed to treat your varicose veins. Your doctor can help you decide which treatment is best for you:

  • Compression stockings
  • Removing diseased vein
  • Closing diseased vein (through thermal or  nonthermal  treatment)

With proper treatment, the progressive symptoms of vein disease are preventable.

Without treatment, signs and symptoms may progress and significantly impact quality of life, and lead to venous leg ulcers.1

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.


Eberhardt RT, Raffetto JD. Chronic venous insufficiency. Circulation. 2014;130:333-346.


Gloviczki P, Comerota AJ, Dalsing MC, et al. The Care of Patients with Varicose Veins and Associated Chronic Diseases: Clinical Practice Guidelines of the Society for Vascular Surgery and the American Venous Forum. J Vasc Surg. May 2011;53(5 Suppl):2S-48S.


Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Conditions and Diseases. Available at: Accessed May 14, 2019.