If you have varicose veins and they do not cause you any discomfort, you may not need to visit your GP. Varicose veins are rarely a serious condition and they do not usually require any treatment.
However, you should seek advice from your GP if:
- Your varicose veins are causing you pain or discomfort.
- The skin over your veins is sore and irritated.
- The aching in your legs is causing irritation at night and disturbing your sleep.
Varicose veins are diagnosed by their appearance. Your GP will examine your legs while you are standing to check for any signs of swelling. They may also ask you to describe any pain that you have and whether there are any situations that make your varicose veins worse. For example, some women find that their menstrual cycle (periods) affect their varicose veins.
Your GP will also ask about any risk factors that could make varicose veins more likely, such as:
- having a family history of varicose veins
- being pregnant
- having a healthy body mass index (BMI)
- having deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in one of the deep veins of the body)
- a history of leg injury (for example, having previously broken a bone in your leg)
If your GP feels it is necessary to investigate your varicose veins further, they may refer you to a vascular specialist (a doctor who specialises in veins). After examining your veins, the specialist will decide whether any further investigations are necessary.
There are a few tests that can be used to investigate varicose veins. These are:
- Doppler test
- colour duplex ultrasound scan
These are briefly outlined below.
A Doppler test uses an ultrasound scan to provide information about the direction of blood flow in your veins. It provides an indication of how well the valves in your veins work.
An ultrasound scan is a painless procedure that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce an image of the inside of your body. A Doppler test can also be used to check for any blood clots or obstructions in your veins.
Colour duplex ultrasound scan
A colour duplex ultrasound scan provides colour images of your vein structure. This allows the specialist to look for any abnormalities in your veins. A colour duplex ultrasound scan can also measure the speed of your blood flow.
See the Health A-Z topic about Ultrasound scans for more information about this type of procedure.
- Veins are a type of blood vessel that carry blood back to the heart.