Search the Health Library
Get the facts on diseases, conditions, tests and procedures.
I Want To...
Find a Doctor
I Want To...
Find Research Faculty
Enter the last name, specialty or keyword for your search below.
Conditions We Treat: Varicose Veins
Varicose veins occur when surface veins have trouble sending blood up to the heart from the feet and legs. While arteries get help from the pumping heart, veins push blood — against gravity — using a series of valves. Injury, obesity and standing for long periods can damage the valves. Blood pooling in the veins increases pressure and stretches the veins, leading to enlarged purple clusters visible below the skin.
Varicose Veins: What You Need to Know
- Throbbing, aching or heaviness in the legs may signal more dangerous conditions such as deep vein thrombosis or superficial thrombophlebitis.
- A vascular surgeon will be more likely to spot serious underlying conditions that cause varicose veins.
- Your vascular surgeon's first goal of treatment will be to help your veins work more efficiently using conservative, noninvasive measures.
- If conservative treatments don't work, your surgeon may recommend a procedure to reroute blood to more effective veins in your leg.
Spider veins, which are much smaller clusters of visible surface veins, are not considered a threat to health, although they can also be treated by a vascular surgeon.
Why choose Johns Hopkins Heart and Vascular Institute for treatment of varicose veins?
Our Patient Care
Sue Hu had surgery for a venous ulcer, but then developed a second ulcer. She sought care from the Johns Hopkins Vein Center, where treatment, education and successful surgery put her on the road to healing.
"I’m an advocate for my own health, and this is the kind of information I want. It’s about improving quality of life."