Management of varicose veins.Am Fam Physician. 2008 Dec 01; 78(11):1289-94.AF
Varicose veins are twisted, dilated veins most commonly located on the lower extremities. Risk factors include chronic cough, constipation, family history of venous disease, female sex, obesity, older age, pregnancy, and prolonged standing. The exact pathophysiology is debated, but it involves a genetic predisposition, incompetent valves, weakened vascular walls, and increased intravenous pressure. A heavy, achy feeling; itching or burning; and worsening with prolonged standing are all symptoms of varicose veins. Potential complications include infection, leg ulcers, stasis changes, and thrombosis. Some conservative treatment options are avoidance of prolonged standing and straining, elevation of the affected leg, exercise, external compression, loosening of restrictive clothing, medical therapy, modification of cardiovascular risk factors, reduction of peripheral edema, and weight loss. More aggressive treatments include external laser treatment, injection sclerotherapy, endovenous interventions, and surgery. Comparative treatment outcome data are limited. There is little evidence to preferentially support any single treatment modality. Choice of therapy is affected by symptoms, patient preference, cost, potential for iatrogenic complications, available medical resources, insurance reimbursement, and physician training.