How Are Varicose Veins Diagnosed?

Doctors often diagnose varicose veins based on a physical exam alone. Sometimes tests or procedures are used to find out the extent of the problem or to rule out other conditions.

Specialists Involved

If you have varicose veins, you may see a vascular medicine specialist or vascular surgeon. These doctors specialize in blood vessel conditions. You also may see a dermatologist. This type of doctor specializes in skin conditions.

Physical Exam

To check for varicose veins in your legs, your doctor will look at your legs while you're standing or sitting with your legs dangling. He or she may ask you about your signs and symptoms, including any pain you're having.

Diagnostic Tests and Procedures

Duplex Ultrasound

Your doctor may recommend duplex ultrasound to check blood flow in your veins and to look for blood clots. Duplex ultrasound combines traditional with Doppler ultrasound. Traditional ultrasound uses sound waves to create a picture of the structures in your body, in this case the blood vessels and anything that may be blocking the flow of blood. Doppler ultrasound uses sound waves to create pictures of the flow or movement of the blood through the veins. The two types of ultrasound together paint a picture that helps your doctor diagnose your condition.

During this test, a handheld device will be placed on your body and passed back and forth over the affected area. The device sends and receives sound waves. A computer will convert the sound waves into a picture of the blood flow in your arteries and veins.


Although it is not very common, your doctor may recommend an angiogram to get a more detailed look at the blood flow through your veins.

For this procedure, dye is injected into your veins. The dye outlines your veins on x-ray images.

An angiogram can help your doctor confirm whether you have varicose veins or another condition.