Varicose veins—the most common vein disorder—are enlarged, twisted veins under the skin of the legs. When the one-way valves in your veins weaken, blood can flow backward and pool in your veins, which can cause the veins to stretch and dilate.
Varicose veins are sometimes surrounded by networks of tiny, red veins known as “spider veins.”
“Varicose veins are largely genetic, and there’s no way to prevent them,” says Kapil Gopal, MD, MBA, assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and vascular surgeon at the Vascular Center.
Fortunately, varicose veins are not dangerous, although the swelling is unsightly and may be painful, Dr. Gopal says. However, surgery may be recommended to improve appearance and relieve pain.
Relieve Your Symptoms
To ease the discomfort of varicose veins, Dr. Gopal suggests wearing support hosiery and sturdy, supportive shoes. Elevate your feet whenever you can. Finally, when you’re on your feet, move around instead of standing still. “Keep the muscles working to pump the blood along the veins,” Dr. Gopal says. “Even taking a few steps back and forth is better than standing in one place.”