Are Varicose Veins Only Cosmetic?

February 4, 2021 The Vein Institute

Bulging, twisted veins, discoloured in purple and yellow hues that snake across your legs. Varicose veins can be one of the more unsightly things that can affect your legs. For some people, even the mildest of spider veins can have them reaching for the long pants instead of shorts. For others, a network of varicose veins doesn’t bother how they feel about their appearance. Most people with them tend to write them off as just another part of getting a bit older. Also, we are often asked, are varicose veins only cosmetic like wrinkles or blemishes on the skin? The true nature of varicose veins is much more than skin deep.

How do varicose veins develop?

Varicose veins aren’t their own condition, but rather a symptom of venous insufficiency, which is the underlying issue in almost all cases. When venous insufficiency occurs, the valves that pump the blood back up to the heart from the legs become weak, damaged or otherwise impaired.

This insufficiency ranges widely in severity, with some cases leading to spider and varicose veins alone, while others can lead to venous ulcers, clot issues and chronic swelling.

While varicose veins might not be clearly visible on the surface of the skin, they can still be forming out of sight deeper in your legs. For this reason, it’s important to be aware of the other symptoms that can come with venous insufficiency and varicose veins.

Are varicose veins only cosmetic?

The short answer is no, varicose veins aren’t only cosmetic. The veins in our legs are responsible for circulating oxygenated blood back up to the heart. Therefore, damaged vein valves and varicose veins can impact circulation and possibly lead to more serious health concerns.

Learn more: Are varicose veins a warning sign of something else?

In some cases, varicose veins can progress no further than a couple of errant twisted veins. But in other circumstances, they can be so severe that some of the veins can fail to function at all. So, how can you tell the difference and know when you should be concerned?

If you find yourself suffering from any of these symptoms, then it’s recommended you speak to your GP or a vein specialist to get checked for vein function and varicose vein treatment.

  • Itchy sensations around veins in your legs
  • Swelling that’s worse at the end of the day, especially around your ankles
  • Discomfort in the legs that can sometimes feel like a burning sensation or cramping pain
  • Dark purple or blue veins in the legs
  • Pain that’s worse in the legs when you’ve been sitting or standing for a while
  • Bulging or twisted veins

If you have a family history of varicose veins, are overweight or are over the age of 40, then you’re at higher risk and the presence of these symptoms should prompt a visit to the doctor.

Diagram of a normal functioning vein with healthy vein valves, a varicose vein with damaged vein valves and then an image of how the varicose vein looks when compressed by wearing medical-grade compression stockings.

What are my options?

While varicose veins themselves can’t be “cured” in the traditional sense, they can be treated through medical procedures.

The treatment options for varicose veins range from self-care options for pain and symptom management, non-surgical treatments such as those which are offered at The Vein Institute, and in-hospital surgical procedures.

Non-surgical treatment

  • Endovenous Laser Ablation
  • Radiofrequency Ablation
  • Medical Superglue
  • Sclerotherapy


  • Wear compression stockings
  • Eating a balanced diet and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time
  • Certain supplements and foods can help manage the symptoms of varicose veins

Surgical options

  • Surgical stripping
  • Phlebectomy

Varicose vein treatment

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.

The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment are:

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 981 402. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.