Leg Vein Health

Updated 28 January 2016

Stocking up - You and varicose veins

People associate varicose veins with the elderly. Not true. Even young women (and men) can be afflicted by these.


People associate varicose veins with the elderly. Not true. Even young women (and men) can be afflicted by these.

What are varicose veins?
Veins contain valves, which shut off to prevent the backflow of blood. When these valves malfunction, a pool of blood collects, weakening the walls of the vessel, which, after a time, balloon out and appear swollen. The veins at the back of the knees and legs are often affected. This condition tends to run in families.

Sometimes the blood in the veins may clot, especially if there is a superficial injury or skin infection. Women on the oral contraceptive pill and smokers are particularly at risk.

Read: Office strolls restore blood flow to the legs 

Symptoms of varicose veins

  • Swelling of the ankles
  • Aching in the legs at the end of the day
  • Episodes of thrombosis
  • Eczema of the overlying skin
  • Ulceration of the skin in severe cases

    What your doctor can do for you

    • Operate to tie off and remove the worst of the veins
    • Inject fluid to shrink the worst of the veins
    • Recommend support stockings
    • Treat varicose ulcers

    Read: What are varicose veins?

      What you can do for yourself
      There is much you can do, says Dr Alan Stewart, Head of the Women’s Nutritional Advisory Service in the UK.

      • Try and avoid standing for lengthy periods of time
      • Eat as little salt as possible
      • Lose weight if you need to
      • Put your legs up as often as possible to let the fluid drain away from the varicose vein
      • Take multivitamins if you have leg ulcers as this may aid the healing process 

      Read more: 

      When varicose veins could be a sign of something serious 

      Lasers repair varicose veins 

      Which varicose vein treatment is best?


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        Ask the Expert

        Leg vein expert

        Dr. Riaz Motara is a specialist physician and cardiologist. He has an interest in preventative cardiology. He runs Veinsculpt, the first and only comprehensive vein clinic in South Africa, using endo-venous laser ablation as the treatment of choice.He also operates the only Women's Heart Clinic in South Africa.

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