Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: Can getting rid of varicose veins cause venous insufficiency?

Q. I have varicose veins and would like to get rid of them. Could that lead to venous insufficiency?

A. Having varicose veins removed doesn't make you any more likely to develop venous insufficiency. It might even help to reduce the likelihood of developing chronic venous insufficiency by removing a source of increased pressure in the leg veins. Whether you go ahead with treatment or not, there are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of vein problems progressing or recurring.

Venous insufficiency is a decrease in blood flow from the leg veins to the heart that comes about because the veins aren't functioning properly. It's actually a range of conditions, including tiny spider veins (telangiectasias) that may be unsightly but cause no discomfort; moderate-sized, swollen, twisted veins (varicose veins) that cause achy, tired legs and occasional ankle swelling; and severe chronic venous insufficiency, which causes swollen legs, skin color changes, itchy skin, leg cramping and pain, and ulcers on the legs and ankles.

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