The majority of varicose veins are annoying rather than being harmful. The symptoms associated with the veins vary in severity for different people and may simply be the annoyance of the visual impact they cause or pain developing in the bulges seen.
Often they cause us to find that our legs tire or ache. Others may find that their legs and ankles are puffy particularly at the end of the day. The affected skin may become itchy or burn. Some people will suffer from restlessness or cramps in the legs which can disturb their sleep.
We have found that one in ten people will have varicose veins which are severe enough to cause concerns to them or their GP or consultant.
In some instances, the condition is associated with the development of changes to the appearance of the overlying skin, or the development of irritation within the veins themselves.
These may require lifestyle or work changes, or medical intervention such as prescription of steroid creams, painkillers or tight stockings to wear during the day to help prevent over-distension of the veins and encourage the better drainage of blood from the leg.
Your GP can advise you if you feel that your veins are becoming troublesome. Often we just want someone experienced to look at our veins and advise that nothing harmful will happen if left alone.
Many people do not like the look of the veins but they often cause heaviness and aching in the leg, pain, a feeling of heat or 'something running down the leg'. More severe varicose veins cause swelling of the ankle, itching, exczema and changes to the skin around the ankle.
Patients may wish for treatment for a number of reasons. They may seek attention for cosmetic issues, due to dissatisfaction with the appearance of their legs. Pain, aching and leg swelling can all be caused by symptomatic varicose veins. If the veins have been present for a significant period of time they may cause skin changes around the ankle or even ulceration.