Diseases & Conditions

Advances in varicose vein treatment

Techniques continue to evolve, making varicose vein elimination less invasive, less painful, and more efficient than ever.

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

photo of a person with prominent varicose veins in the ankle pullin on a sock over their foot

Nobody wants varicose veins. They're all purply-blue, a mass of gnarled, bulging blood vessels visible in the lower legs. More than being unsightly, the veins can lead to leg swelling, tired and achy muscles, hard-to-heal ulcers that can get infected, and even disability. Fortunately, treatment for varicose veins has advanced steadily. And it's poised to take another leap forward.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins stem from problems with the "superficial" veins in the legs — that is, those near the surface, located about half an inch below the skin. Like all leg veins, superficial veins have one-way valves that open as blood is pumped up toward the heart, and close to keep blood from flowing back down into the legs.

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About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

photo of Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD


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