What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, blue veins that are close to the surface of the skin. Because valves in them are damaged, they hold more blood at higher pressure than normal. That forces fluid into the surrounding tissue, making the affected leg swell and feel heavy, achy, tired, painful, and fatigued. Skin symptoms include itching, burning, dryness, redness, and ulceration. Sometimes varicose veins can be present without symptoms. Eventually the veins get worse and symptoms develop.

What causes varicose veins and spider veins?

Leg veins have hundreds of one way valves that direct venous blood up the leg toward the heart. When one or more of these valves “leak” gravity pulls blood back down the leg in reverse direction. This causes increased blood and pressure in the veins and surrounding tissue. This is called venous reflux or venous insufficiency.

Who is at risk for varicose veins?

Risk factors include family history, age, female gender, pregnancies, vocations that require prolonged standing or sitting, obesity, and a history of past vein disease (such DVT).

Why treat varicose veins?

The decision to treat varicose veins is based on relieving symptoms, restoring health to the legs, improving circulation, and improving their appearance. Treating varicose veins and venous reflux will prevent more advanced problems, such as permanent skin discoloration and skin ulceration. It may help reduce the chance of superficial venous thrombosis (painful blood clots), and deep venous thrombosis (DVT-a dangerous medical condition). It will also help prevent the recurrence of varicose veins and spider veins.