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Patients experiencing an achy, heavy feeling or a burning sensation in their legs may be feeling the symptoms of varicose veins. These twisted, enlarged veins often develop as people age, but they also can begin when people are younger. Any vein that is close to the skin's surface—called a superficial vein—can become a varicose vein.
"For most people, varicose veins simply are a cosmetic concern," says Christopher Huiras, M.D., a general and vascular surgeon at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse and Sparta. "But for others, varicose veins may lead to more serious health issues, such as significant life-limiting ulcers or blood clots."
Dr. Huiras says symptoms of varicose veins include:
Varicose veins are usually dark purple or blue in color, and they tend to appear twisted or bulge.
"Exercising, limiting sodium intake, losing weight, and elevating your legs are some self-care options to stop varicose veins from worsening," explains Dr. Huiras. "Purchasing compression stockings often is the first approach your health care team will suggest before trying other treatment options."
Compression stockings can be worn during the day to improve blood flow in the legs and reduce swelling and aching.
If these self-care options don't ease the pain, Dr. Huiras says options that might provide quick recovery with minimal pain include:
"Sometimes, one or more procedures can be combined for best results," Dr. Huiras says.