Varicose veins are veins that have become abnormally swollen or knotty. Varicose veins can occur anywhere on the body but the term commonly refers to veins on the leg. Varicose veins are most common on the legs and feet because standing and walking increases the pressure in the veins in those locations.

In addition to being a cosmetic issue, varicose veins can be a health problem as well. Varicose veins can cause pain, swelling, ulcerations, and painful blood clots. While the majority of plastic surgeons don't deal with varicose veins, there are are some dermatologists that will, even though they aren't trained in vascular surgery. This can be problematic, since there can be dangerous complications from surgery. People with varicose veins often seek help from phlebologists, doctors that specialize in vein care. Usually, there is an underlying problem associated with deep and superficial veins. If this problem isn't addressed at the time of surgery for the varicose vein, there is a high chance of recurrence.

One surgical treatment of varicose veins involves stripping. During the process of stripping, the problematic vein is simply removed. After the vein is gone, other nearby vessels take over so there are no long term negative effects. However, stripping has a two-week recovery period and is sometimes associated with significant disability and scarring. Another surgical alternative involves a chemical injection of sodium tetradecyl sulfate. This injection damages the interior of the blood vessels. While effective, this method can result in severe inflammation, allergic reactions, and deep blood clots.

So, are there any nonsurgical treatments for getting rid of varicose veins? There is a new technique available referred to as the VNUS closure system which is rapidly growing in popularity. The VNUS system uses ultrasound and basically fries the vein along their length. According to one study, this technique is as effective as vein stripping in the long term. However, there are some that question whether or not it will stand the test of time. Going back to the original problem, if the connector veins are not dealt with, there will be a high rate of recurrence. There have also been reports of nerve injuries associated with the VNUS system. However, if the surgeon knows how to read the ultrasound properly, avoiding neighboring nerves should not be an issue.

For temporary relief, elevating the legs can often help. Some people say that exercise can help, but this advice is not supported by any scientific evidence or research. Compression stockings have been shown to correct swelling and anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or aspirin can also be used.