Your health care provider will do a physical exam, including looking at your legs while you’re standing to check for swelling. Your provider might also ask you to describe pain and aching in your legs.
To diagnose varicose veins, a health care provider might recommend a test called a venous Doppler ultrasound of the leg. A Doppler ultrasound is a noninvasive test that uses sound waves to look at blood flow through the valves in the veins. A leg ultrasound can help detect a blood clot.
In this test, a health care provider moves a small hand-held device (transducer), which is about the size of a bar of soap, against the skin over the body area being examined. The transducer transmits images of the veins in the legs to a monitor, which displays the results.
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Treatment for varicose veins may include self-care measures, compression stockings, and surgeries or procedures. Procedures to treat varicose veins are often done as an outpatient procedure, which means you usually go home on the same day.
Ask your insurer if varicose vein treatment is a covered expense. If varicose vein treatment is done only to improve the appearance of the legs (cosmetic reason), the cost might not be covered by insurance.
Self-care — such as exercise, raising the legs when sitting or lying down, or wearing compression stockings — can help ease the pain of varicose veins and might prevent them from getting worse.
Wearing compression stockings all day is often the first approach to try. The stockings squeeze the legs, helping veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. The amount of compression varies by type and brand.
Compression stockings are available at most pharmacies and medical supply stores. Prescription-strength stockings also are available and may be covered by insurance if varicose veins are causing symptoms.
If self-care steps and compression stockings don’t work, or varicose veins are more severe, a health care provider might recommend surgery or other procedures:
Sclerotherapy. A health care provider injects the varicose veins with a solution or foam that scars and closes those veins. In a few weeks, treated varicose veins should fade.
The same vein might need to be injected more than once. Sclerotherapy doesn’t require anesthesia and can be done in a health care provider’s office.
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Lifestyle and home remedies for varicose veins include:
Though they haven’t been well studied, a number of alternative therapies claim to be helpful treatments for chronic venous insufficiency. This is a condition associated with varicose veins in which leg veins have problems returning blood to the heart. Alternative therapies for varicose veins may include:
Talk with your health care provider before trying any herb or dietary supplement to make sure the product is safe and won’t interfere with medications you take.
Your health care provider will need to look at your bare legs and feet to diagnose varicose veins and figure out what treatment might be best for your condition.
Your primary care doctor might recommend that you see a doctor who specializes in vein conditions (phlebologist), a vascular surgeon or a doctor who treats skin conditions (dermatologist or dermatology surgeon). In the meantime, there are some steps you can take to prepare for your appointment.
Make a list of:
Some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions, including:
Even before your appointment, you can begin self-care.
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