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Varicose Veins

A leg covered in varicose veins

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. They can appear to be dark purple or blue and look twisted and bulging. Varicose veins are commonly found on the thighs, back of the calves, or the inside of the leg due to the pressure of body weight, force of gravity and task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart.

Varicose veins begin when the vein valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction (reflux) become weak or malfunction. This causes blood to pool in the veins, forcing them to protrude from the skin becoming tortuous or rope-like and varicose. This increased venous pressure can lead to further failure of other vein valves and to the development of varicose veins.

In addition to being unsightly and even embarrassing, some common symptoms of varicose veins include:
  • swelling
  • throbbing or cramping
  • heaviness
  • aching pain that gets worse after sitting or standing for a long period of time
  • restless legs
Many factors can increase the likelihood of developing varicose veins. The primary contributing factor is heredity, or the genetic predisposition to weak vein walls and vein valves. There are also a number of lifestyle variables known to accelerate and aggravate the development of varicose veins:
  • pregnancy
  • birth control pills
  • hormone replacement therapies
  • lack of exercies
  • prolonged sitting or standing
  • obesity
  • constipation
  • aging

Varicose veins are a progressive disease that can eventually lead to problems such as ankle swelling, pigmentation, ulceration, bleeding, and advanced Chronic Venous Insufficiency. It is important to seek medical treatment early in order to stop the natural progression of this disease, and reduce symptoms to achieve the best possible cosmetic results.