Varicose veins are leg veins that do not pump blood effectively up the legs to the heart. They are often seen as bulging veins just underneath your skin on either or both legs. All veins contain small valves that propel blood up the body towards the heart. However sometimes these valves don’t work properly, so that blood that is meant to be pushed towards the heart moves or “leaks” instead downwards in the legs due to gravity. The extra pressure inside the veins causes them to bulge outwards. There are other leg veins that are still working properly, so your blood does eventually arrive through other routes to your heart. Apart from being unsightly, these leaky veins effect your circulatory system in a negative way.
Varicose veins have many possible causes, including:
Both men and women experience varicose veins; however women seem to be at greater risk, this could be due to hormones, pregnancy and/or genetics. Varicose veins are different from spider veins, which are smaller, red, purple or blue veins near the surface of the skin on the legs, ankles, feet and sometimes the face. Spider veins do not usually bulge and usually pose no medical risk.
Left untreated, varicose veins do carry some medical risks. If the “leak” in these veins is severe, over time it can cause inflammation to the surrounding skin. Some varicose veins may cause aching, throbbing, or the feeling of restless legs after a long day. Over a period of years they can cause a brown pigmentation, hardening of your skin, and even a skin ulcer. People with varicose veins are also at a higher risk of blood clots, also known as deep vein thrombosis or DVT. DVT is dangerous medical condition and can require immediate medical attention.
The team of doctors at the Vein Institute are ready to help you assess your varicose veins and choose an effective treatment if necessary.