What Are Varicose Veins

Vein disorders can occur in men or women of any age. About 40 percent of the general population suffers from them, and women are mostly affected. It is assumed that there is a genetic predisposition, because very often there is a family history of the problem. Certain occupations and activities that require prolonged standing or sitting, with lack of exercise, will aggravate the condition. Pregnancy can precipitate or make the problem worse.

A varicose vein is a failed vein. The function of your veins is to channel blood back to the heart. The larger veins have valves that direct the flow of blood. When any of these valves fail, blood can accumulate under pressure, engorging and distorting the veins in your leg. Varicose veins appear as either bulging and rope-like or small and thread-like. They can result in aching, tired and swollen legs, create a burning, throbbing or itching sensation, and cause muscle cramps and a general restlessness in your legs. However, many people have varicose veins and don’t have any discomfort.

Spider veins are tiny red or purple blood vessels or capillaries that expand in size and become visible on the surface of the skin. They may look like short fine lines, “starburst clusters” or a web-like maze. The most frequent location for spider veins is anywhere on the legs, but they may also appear on the face, especially on the nose and cheeks.

Most of the time varicose veins are not dangerous, but since venous disease is chronic and progressive, the most advanced cases may result in painful ankle ulcers, staining of the skin (hyperpigmentation), hardening and inflammation (phlebitis), rupture with bleeding or other serious problems.

As stated above, varicose and spider veins are not always unhealthy, but they are always unsightly. Since they are not necessary for normal circulation, it is possible to eliminate these “bad veins.” Consequently, blood will circulate more effectively through the remaining healthy veins.