People can often manage their own varicose veins with home treatments like exercising regularly, elevating the legs and wearing compression stockings . This type of self-care may reduce the pain of varicose veins or keep them from worsening.
If these steps don’t help, or if you are concerned about how your varicose veins look or feel, it may be time to see your primary care doctor or vein specialist. Your primary care doctor may refer you to a vein specialist, such as a phlebologist, a vascular surgeon or a dermatologist.
Why see a vein specialist
The way in which doctors diagnose and treat varicose veins has improved a lot in the past few years. In some cases, a doctor who specializes in vein disease may be able to provide the best treatment for your condition. This is true for both patients with only visible signs of varicose veins and those with more severe symptoms.
- If you only have visible signs of varicose veins. A vein specialist can help people who have spider veins or bulging varicose veins, even if they don’t have more severe symptoms. A specialist can offer you various treatments that may be able to make your legs look healthier.
- If you have more severe symptoms of varicose veins. If you have pain, swelling in the ankles, or open sores in the legs, a vein specialist can provide you with a clear diagnosis. This includes ruling out other, more serious conditions such as circulatory problems caused by diabetes. You will also learn about the best treatment options to help you regain your quality of life.
Symptoms to keep an eye out for
If you have any of the following symptoms, you can see a vein specialist for a consultation. During your visit, you will find out if you have varicose veins or other underlying conditions. You will also learn about your best treatment options.
- Twisted or bulging veins
- Dark purple or blue veins
- Discomfort, pain or a feeling of heaviness in your legs
- Swelling in your lower legs
- Itching around one of your leg veins
- Open sores (ulcers) near your ankle
Symptoms of varicose veins may worsen after sitting or standing for long periods, or toward the end of the day. They can also be severe enough to interfere with daily activities like exercising or playing with your children or grandchildren.
Warning signs of more serious problems
If you have varicose veins, you should contact a vein specialist or your primary care doctor if you develop any of the following more serious symptoms:
- Sudden pain or swelling in the leg. This could be a sign of a blood clot in a deep vein, a serious condition that may need immediate treatment.
- Bleeding in the skin over a varicose vein, with or without an injury. Because this skin is often thin, it can bleed heavily. To stop the bleeding, apply pressure and elevate your leg.
- A tender lump in the your leg, which could be caused by inflammation or a clot in the vein. This may not be serious, but could require treatment.
- An open sore in the legs, known as an ulcer.
- Varicose vein symptoms that don’t get better with treatments at home, or new symptoms that concern you.
Preparing for your appointment
To make the most of the appointment with your vein specialist, write down the following before your visit:
- Any symptoms that you have been having, including those that you don’t think are related to varicose veins.
- Personal information, such as whether other members of your family have had varicose veins or heart or circulation problems.
- Medications, vitamins and supplements that you are taking
- Questions you want to ask your doctor
Steps to take before your doctor’s visit
Even before you meet with your doctor, you can take steps to reduce the symptoms of varicose veins.
- Do not sit or stand in the same position for more than half an hour at a time.
- Elevate your legs while seated or lying down.
- Wear comfortable footwear and loose-fitting socks or hosiery.