The following guidance is based on the best available evidence. The full guideline gives details of the methods and the evidence used to develop the guidance.

People have the right to be involved in discussions and make informed decisions about their care, as described in NICE's information on making decisions about your care.

Making decisions using NICE guidelines explains how we use words to show the strength (or certainty) of our recommendations, and has information about prescribing medicines (including off-label use), professional guidelines, standards and laws (including on consent and mental capacity), and safeguarding.

1.1 Information for people with varicose veins


Give people who present with varicose veins information that includes:

  • An explanation of what varicose veins are.

  • Possible causes of varicose veins.

  • The likelihood of progression and possible complications, including deep vein thrombosis, skin changes, leg ulcers, bleeding and thrombophlebitis. Address any misconceptions the person may have about the risks of developing complications.

  • Treatment options, including symptom relief, an overview of interventional treatments and the role of compression.

  • Advice on:

    • weight loss (for guidance on weight management see the NICE guideline on obesity prevention)

    • light to moderate physical activity

    • avoiding factors that are known to make their symptoms worse if possible

    • when and where to seek further medical help.


When discussing treatment for varicose veins at the vascular service tell the person:

  • What treatment options are available.

  • The expected benefits and risks of each treatment option.

  • That new varicose veins may develop after treatment.

  • That they may need more than 1 session of treatment.

  • That the chance of recurrence after treatment for recurrent varicose veins is higher than for primary varicose veins.

    A vascular service is a team of healthcare professionals who have the skills to undertake a full clinical and duplex ultrasound assessment and provide a full range of treatment.

1.2 Referral to a vascular service


Refer people with bleeding varicose veins to a vascular service immediately.


Refer people to a vascular service if they have any of the following.

  • Symptomatic primary or symptomatic recurrent varicose veins. Symptomatic veins are veins found in association with troublesome lower limb symptoms (typically pain, aching, discomfort, swelling, heaviness and itching).

  • Lower‑limb skin changes, such as pigmentation or eczema, thought to be caused by chronic venous insufficiency.

  • Superficial vein thrombosis (characterised by the appearance of hard, painful veins) and suspected venous incompetence.

  • A venous leg ulcer (a break in the skin below the knee that has not healed within 2 weeks).

  • A healed venous leg ulcer.

1.3 Assessment and treatment in a vascular service



Use duplex ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis of varicose veins and the extent of truncal reflux, and to plan treatment for people with suspected primary or recurrent varicose veins.

Interventional treatment


For people with confirmed varicose veins and truncal reflux:


If offering compression bandaging or hosiery for use after interventional treatment, do not use for more than 7 days.

Non-interventional treatment


Do not offer compression hosiery to treat varicose veins unless interventional treatment is unsuitable.

1.4 Management during pregnancy


Give pregnant women presenting with varicose veins information on the effect of pregnancy on varicose veins.


Do not carry out interventional treatment for varicose veins during pregnancy other than in exceptional circumstances.


Consider compression hosiery for symptom relief of leg swelling associated with varicose veins during pregnancy.

  • National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)