Seeing your GP
Varicose veins are diagnosed by their appearance. Your GP will examine your legs while you're standing to check for signs of swelling.
You may also be asked to describe any pain you have and whether there are situations that make your varicose veins worse.
For example, some women find their menstrual cycle (period) affects their varicose veins.
Your GP will also want to know if you're at an increased risk of developing varicose veins, such as:
Your GP may refer you to a vascular specialist (a doctor who specialises in veins) if you have any of the following:
- varicose veins that are causing pain, aching, discomfort, swelling, heaviness or itching (whether or not you've had varicose veins before)
- changes in the colour of the skin on your leg that may be caused by problems with the blood flow in the leg
- skin conditions affecting your leg, such as eczema, that may be caused by problems with the blood flow in the leg
- hard and painful varicose veins that may be caused by problems with the blood flow in the leg
- a healed or unhealed leg ulcer (a break in the skin that has not healed within 2 weeks) below the knee
In most cases, a test called a duplex ultrasound scan will be carried out. This is a type of scan that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce a picture of the veins in your legs.
The picture shows the blood flow and helps the vascular specialist locate any damaged valves that might be causing your varicose veins.