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Varicose Veins


Varicose veins are veins that become large, twisted, and swollen. They are common on the back of the calves, knees, and thighs. Varicose veins are caused by valves in your veins that do not work properly. This causes blood to collect and increase pressure in the veins of your legs. The increased pressure causes your veins to stretch, get larger, swell, and twist.


Seek care immediately if:

  • You have a wound that does not heal or is infected.
  • You have an injury that has broken your skin and caused your varicose veins to bleed.
  • Your leg is swollen and hard.
  • You have pain in your leg that does not go away or gets worse.
  • You notice that your legs or feet are turning blue or black.
  • Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • Your symptoms get worse or they keep you from doing your daily activities.
  • You have an injury that has caused your varicose veins to bleed underneath your skin.
  • You have a rash on your leg.
  • Your symptoms keep you from doing your daily activities.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Manage varicose veins:

  • Wear pressure stockings. The stockings are tight and put pressure on your legs. They improve blood flow and help prevent clots.

  • Elevate your legs. Keep them above the level of your heart for 15 to 30 minutes several times a day. This will help blood to flow back to your heart.
  • Do not sit or stand for long periods of time. This can cause the blood to collect in your legs and make your symptoms worse. Walk around for a few minutes every hour to get blood moving in your legs.
  • Do not wear tight clothing or shoes. Do not wear high-heeled shoes. Do not wear clothes that are tight around the waist.
  • Get plenty of exercise. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best exercise plan for you. Exercise can decrease your blood pressure and improve your health. Bend or rotate your ankles several times every hour. This will help blood to flow back to the heart.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Your heart works harder when you are overweight. This can make varicose vein worse. Ask your healthcare provider how much you should weigh. Ask him to help you create a weight loss plan if you are overweight.
  • Do not smoke. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can cause blood vessel damage. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke and need help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to your healthcare provider before you use these products.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Varicose Veins (Discharge Care)

Associated drugs

IBM Watson Micromedex

Symptoms and treatments

Mayo Clinic Reference