Varicose veins


Varicose veins are the large, visible, and bulging leg veins under the skin. They arise due to the weakness of the vein wall because the vein valves no longer work. Under the pressure of gravity, these veins can continue to expand. The veins may become bigger, thicker, and painful.

The most important risk factors for varicose veins are:

  • Genetic
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancies
  • Long-standing (or sitting)
  • Lack of sports

Varicose veins may not cause any pain. Signs you may have varicose veins include:

  • Veins that are dark purple or blue in color
  • Veins that appear twisted and bulging; they are often like cords on your legs

When painful signs and symptoms occur, they may include:

  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Itching around one or more of your veins
  • Skin discoloration around a varicose vein

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they’re smaller. Spider veins are found closer to the skin’s surface and are often red or blue.

Spider veins occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. They vary in size and often look like a spider’s web.

Our veins return blood from the arms and legs to the heart. Because veins work against the force of gravity in legs, they have valves that allow forward blood flow, but not reverse. Contraction (squeezing) of the leg muscles pumps the blood towards the heart while the valves in the veins prevent backflow towards the feet. If these valves lose their function, the blood leaks (reflux) toward feet, accumulate in thin-walled superficial veins causing them to enlarge and become what we call ‘’varicose veins’’.

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