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Varicose veins - Risk factors - Screening and diagnosis - Complications
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Varicose veins

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Risk factors

These factors increase your risk of developing varicose veins:

  • Age. Varicose veins usually appear between ages 30 and 70 and get progressively worse.

  • Sex. Women are more likely than men are to develop the condition. Hormonal changes during pregnancy, premenstruation or menopause may be a factor. Female hormones tend to relax vein walls. Taking hormone replacement therapy or birth control pills may increase your risk of varicose veins. 

  • Genetics. If other family members had varicose veins, there's a greater chance you will too.

  • Obesity. Being overweight puts added pressure on your veins.

  • Standing for long periods of time. Your blood doesn't flow as well if you're in the same position for long periods.

When to seek medical advice

Self-help measures can help you ease the pain of varicose veins and may prevent them from getting worse. But if you're concerned about how your veins look and feel and self-care measures haven't stopped your condition from getting worse, see your doctor.

Screening and diagnosis

In making a diagnosis, your doctor will examine your legs while you're standing and will look for swelling. He or she may also ask you to describe the pain and aching in your legs. Finally, your doctor may perform an ultrasound test to see if there's any evidence of a blood clot. Your primary care doctor may recommend that you see a doctor who specializes in vein conditions (phlebology) or a doctor who treats skin conditions (dermatologist or dermatology surgeon).

Complications

Sometimes, extremely painful ulcers may form on the skin near varicose veins, particularly near the ankles. Ulcers are the result of long-term "waterlogging" of these tissues, caused by increased pressure of blood within affected veins. Brownish pigmentation usually precedes the development of an ulcer. Ulcers require urgent medical attention.

Varicose veins > 1 > 2 > 3 > 4

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This information is provided for general medical education purposes only and is not meant to substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician relative to diagnostic and treatment options of a specific patient's medical condition.
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