Q. Varicose veins make my legs look terrible. Is there anything I can do to prevent these ugly veins from getting worse or, preferably, make them go away?
A. Varicose veins occur in about 25 percent of adults. They represent a failure of the veins to keep blood flowing toward the heart. There is a genetic component to varicose veins, but other risk factors include prolonged standing, multiple pregnancies, and being overweight. Varicose veins may cause legs to ache or throb.
If these measures don't stop the problem from getting worse or provide enough relief from symptoms, a more invasive intervention might be considered. These include surgical removal of the veins (vein stripping) or sealing off distended veins with a laser or radiofrequency energy.
Surgery tends to do a good job at providing short- and intermediate-term relief, but other vessels in the leg occasionally will become dilated. Varicose veins that are treated, but not removed, can be retreated if they reopen and become blocked again. -- Thomas Lee, M.D. and Richard Lee, M.D., Co-Editors in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter