URMC / Department of Surgery / Vascular Surgery / Vein Center / FAQ FAQ What are varicose veins? Varicose veins are swollen veins that you can see through your skin. They often look blue, bulging, and twisted. Left untreated, varicose veins may worsen over time. Varicose veins can cause aching and feelings of fatigue as well as skin changes like rashes, redness and sores. As many as 40 million Americans, most of them women, have varicose veins. Learn more about Varicose Veins. What are the symptoms of varicose veins? If you have varicose veins, your legs may feel heavy, tired, restless or achy. Standing or sitting for too long may worsen your symptoms. You may also experience night cramps or notice small clusters of veins in a winding pattern on your leg, or soft, slightly tender knots of veins. What causes varicose veins? High blood pressure inside your superficial leg veins causes varicose veins. You may be at increased risk if you have a family history of varicose veins, are overweight, don't exercise enough, smoke, you stand or sit for long periods of time, or you suffer from deep vein thrombosis. Learn more about the conditions we treat. What tests will I need? Your physician will utilize your medical history, as well as a physical examination to examine the texture and color of any prominent veins. He or she may apply a tourniquet or direct hand pressure to observe how your veins fill with blood. To confirm a diagnosis of varicose veins, your physician may order a duplex ultrasound test. How are varicose veins treated? Varicose veins may sometimes worsen without treatment. Your physician will first try methods that don't require surgery to relieve your symptoms. If you have mild to moderate varicose veins, elevating your legs can help reduce leg swelling and relieve other symptoms. Your physician may instruct you to prop your feet up above the level of your heart 3 or 4 times a day for about 15 minutes at a time. When you need to stand for a long period of time, you can flex your legs occasionally to allow the venous pump to keep blood moving toward your heart. Learn more about the advanced treatments we offer.