Information for the public
Small valves inside the veins help blood to flow properly through them. Varicose veins develop when these valves do not work properly, allowing blood to collect in the veins. The veins then widen and this causes the valves to deteriorate further. The great saphenous vein (a vein that runs just beneath the skin from the foot up to the thigh) is most commonly affected.
Many people have no symptoms from varicose veins but, if they do, these can include heaviness, aching, throbbing, itching, cramps or tiredness in the legs. If the symptoms become severe (with skin discolouration, inflammation or skin ulcers), people may be offered surgery to remove or tie off the affected veins, or procedures to close the veins using lasers, chemicals or heat energy.
NICE has looked at using endovenous mechanochemical ablation as another treatment option.