varicose veins

what are varicose veins?

Blood travels away from the heart through arteries and travels back to the heart through veins.

Varicose veins are enlarged, often twisted leg veins caused by abnormal blood flow.

They develop when the valves within the vein are not working properly.

They may be prominent, bulging veins or flat, superfical spider veins.

They are common and donít often cause serious problems.

They may cause symptoms such as aching and swelling particularly after prolonged standing. Also heaviness, tiredness, cramps, burning, swelling, itching, bleeding and superficial clotting.

Veins can be treated if they are causing symptoms, or for cosmetic reasons.

Veins can be removed surgically or treated by injections to make them disappear.

The best option will depend on the size and location of the veins.

All treatments can have possible complications so a decision must be made in each case balancing risks and benefits.

Varicose veins can recur after treatment.


vein anatomy

Veins carry blood back to your heart.

There are three sets of veins in the leg.

The deep veins run beneath the muscles, and cannot be seen.

The superficial veins or surface veins run under the skin.
The long saphenous vein runs down the inside of your leg and joins the deep veins at the groin.
The short saphenous vein runs up the back of your leg and enters the deep veins behind your knee.

The perforators connect the two systems at different sites.


Most veins have a system of valves to maintain a one-way flow of blood back to your heart. This is because blood from the lower half of your body has to flow against gravity. The calf muscles act as a pump pushing blood up the veins each time that you take a step or bend down. The valves prevent blood flowing backwards between muscle contractions.

Varicose veins occur when the valves don't work properly. Blood then pools in the vein, and makes it bulge.


The most common places where valves stop working properly are:

  • In your groin, where a main surface vein meets a deep vein
  • Behind your knee, where a shorter surface vein meets a deep vein
  • In any of the small veins connecting surface veins to deep veins

Varicose veins affect your surface veins. This is why you can see them through your skin. Varicose veins often appear on the backs of your calves, or on the inside of your leg, anywhere from your groin to your ankle.

symptoms caused by varicose veins

  • Aching
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing
  • Cramping
  • Heaviness
  • Tiredness
  • Restless
  • Itching
  • Tingling

Symptoms may be worse in hot weather or after prolonged standing.

Some women may find that their veins are more painful before their period due to hormonal changes.

Veins may appear or get worse during pregnancy. Some of these changes may improve after the pregnancy.

Symptoms in your legs are not necessarily always due to varicose veins. It is important for your doctor to consider and exclude other conditions. For example pain may be due to arthritis or sciatica. Swelling of the ankles may be a sign of fluid retention due to heart or kidney problems.

Large varicose veins look like twisted cords that run along your leg. Varicose is the Greek word for "grapelike", which describes the appearance of the abnormal veins.

You may have small clusters of veins on your skin that you can see but not feel. These are called spider or thread veins. They tend to appear as fairly small patches on the legs or face and can be red or blue. They don't bulge underneath the surface of the skin like varicose veins do.

Treating all types of venous leg conditions from large varicose veins to small spider veins
  • Endovenous Laser Treatment
  • Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy
  • Micro-Sclerotherapy
  • Duplex Ultrasound Venous Mapping

Appointments can be made
directly or by referral from your regular doctor.


Level 1, Ascot Central
Ellerslie Racecourse Drive, Remuera, Auckland 1051
(Off Greenlane Road East)

Phone: 09 520 9465
Fax: 09 625 6410