Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin. They usually occur in the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body. Hemorrhoids are a type of varicose vein.
Your veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins.
Varicose veins are very common. You are more at risk if you are older, are female, have obesity, don't exercise, or have a family history of varicose veins. They can also be more common in pregnancy.
Doctors often diagnose varicose veins from a physical exam. Sometimes you may need additional tests.
Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting, and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from getting worse. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding long periods of standing can also help. If varicose veins are painful or you don't like the way they look, your doctor may recommend procedures to remove them.
NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
- Bulging Veins: What to Do About Varicose Veins (National Institutes of Health) Also in Spanish
- Varicose Veins (American Heart Association)
- Varicose Veins (Vascular Cures) - PDF
- Varicose Veins and Spider Veins (Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health) Also in Spanish
- What Are Varicose Veins? (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Also in Spanish
Treatments and Therapies
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery)
- Horse Chestnut (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health)
- Sclerotherapy of Varicose Veins and Spider Veins (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- Spider Veins: How Are They Removed? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
- Varicose Vein Treatment (Endovenous Ablation of Varicose Veins) (American College of Radiology, Radiological Society of North America) Also in Spanish
- What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)? (Vascular Cures) - PDF
- Spider Veins (American Society for Dermatologic Surgery)
Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Glossary (Vascular Cures)
- Varicocele (For Teens) (Nemours Foundation)
- Why Do Some Pregnant Women Get Varicose Veins? (Nemours Foundation)
- Telangiectasia (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Varicocele (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Varicose and other vein problems - self-care (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Varicose vein - noninvasive treatment (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Varicose vein stripping (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish
- Varicose veins and venous insufficiency (Medical Encyclopedia) Also in Spanish