Varicose veins affect many people, and they can lead to anxiety and pain. Understanding the factors that might cause them has led to a variety of treatments, some of which are more effective than others.

What causes varicose veins and how to treat them

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What happens to make veins look this way?

Due to a variety of factors, some people experience a malfunction in the usual blood circulation process. This should flow in a one-way manner, with valves in place to avoid backflow. If these valves weaken, the blood flow slows, causing pooling and stretching out the veins.

What causes varicose veins?

They are primarily caused by genetics. Having one parent with varicose veins gives you a 40 per cent chance of developing the problem, and this rises to 90 per cent if both parents are affected. Gender also plays a major role, with women having a higher risk. This is thought to be due to female hormones that relax the vein walls. Ageing means well-used valves and veins are weaker than before, and this can affect leg veins, as can pregnancy or obesity.

What are the treatment options?

There are several treatment options, from the traditional surgical approaches to modern, non-invasive methods.

Initial self-care

Many doctors advise that you wear compression stockings, rest your legs and exercise. This should provide some relief while other treatment options are being considered.

Laser treatment

If the patient has been scanned to identify the exact location of the veins, laser treatment is considered a very effective method. Carried out under local anesthetic on a day-patient basis, the laser targets the varicose vein from the inside. When done properly, this has only a 3 per cent failure rate.


In the past, surgeons simply removed the problematic veins altogether. However, dubious long-term success rates make this approach unpopular.

Planning independent treatment

Not all treatments for varicose veins are available on the NHS, especially if there are no medical complications. Treatments that are considered purely cosmetic must be self-funded. If you plan to organise this yourself, do the research and find an experienced vascular surgeon such as to be sure of a positive result.

Whether they are painful, problematic or simply unattractive, there is no need to suffer with varicose veins. Modern and affordable treatment methods have changed the face of varicose vein management forever.