Varicose Veins Explained

Understanding Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins Image, Varicose Vein Image, Vericose Vein Image, Varicose Vein Leg Image,
Varicose Veins Image. © ADAM

Definition: Varicose veins are blood vessels that become swollen and enlarged. They often appear twisted and feel raised underneath the skin. The veins are typically blue or purplish in appearance.

Spider Veins

It is common to see small blue veins through the skin, especially in the legs, but a visible vein is not the same as a varicose vein.  These small veins are called spider veins, and while they may not be pleasing in appearance, they are typically not painful and do not feel raised under the skin.

 The name comes from the spider web like appearance of these tiny vessels through the skin. 

Spider veins may later become a varicose vein, but many spider veins remain the same size over the lifetime. 

Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are most commonly found in the legs, but can form in other places. They are enlarged veins, often large enough that they may feel like worms or ropes under the skin.  For some patients, varicose veins are large enough to cause pain, and may continue to slowly increase in size over time. They may ache, interfere with the ability to stand for long periods of time, and can make the legs feel "heavy" when standing or walking.  

Many patients with varicose veins experience swelling in the affected leg.  This is because the tiny valves in the veins that work to keep blood flowing in the correct direction are unable to perform in an area of a varicose vein.  The parts of the valve stretch apart as the vein grows in size, which can lead to blood pooling in the area, especially the foot below the vein.


Who Develops Varicose Veins

Women are more likely to develop varicose veins and the risk increases with age and pregnancy.  Menopause can lead to an increase in varicose vein formation. Obese individuals are more likely to develop varicose veins, as are people who have known vascular problems in the legs.


Treatments For Varicose Veins

There are a wide range of treatments available for varicose veins, ranging from very simple interventions such as wearing support hose or elevating the legs to reduce swelling and pressure. 

Treatments, such as laser therapy, are available for painful veins as well as unsightly ones.  Sclerotherapy is a procedure where a medication is injected into the vessel to make it smaller. Insurance is unlikely to pay for the treatment of veins for cosmetic reasons, but may be available if pain is an issue.

Multiple types of surgery are available, ranging from vein stripping to ablation and cryosurgery (cold is applied). Multiple types of ablations are available, including techniques that use lasers and steam.

The primary concern with these procedures, other than the typical risks of surgery and anesthesia, are the formation of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) after the procedure.

Also Known As: Spider Veins,

Common Misspellings: Vericose Veins, Vericose Vein,

Examples: The pregnant woman was alarmed by the appearance of varicose veins on her legs, but her doctor assured her that is was a common issue during pregnancy.

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