Varicose veins are veins in the legs that are twisted and enlarged, making them more visible on the outside of the skin. A mild variation of varicose veins is called spider veins, which tend to form more of a web-like appearance but are often time a symptom of underlying vein disease that progresses over time. About 30% to 60% of adults suffer from some form of varicose veins at one point in their lives.
How do they occur?
Varicose veins are a common health condition caused by weak or damaged vein walls and valves, called venous insufficiency. When your arteries pump blood from your heart to the rest of your tissues, your veins bring it back so that it can be recirculated. But unlike arteries, veins can come under strain because they’re constantly working against gravity—and they can become more aggravated with high blood pressure. This is why pregnancy, obesity and old age are all risk factors for varicose veins. Some people find they are more likely to get varicose veins than others due to genetics.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I be concerned about varicose veins?
Varicose veins are not just cosmetic - because they are a sign of poor circulation in the legs, they are a medical condition that should be evaluated by a board-certified vein specialist. Treatment may be recommended if your symptoms are affecting everyday activities, the veins are red, tender when you press them, they easily bleed or if you are experiencing swelling, heaviness or veins itchiness or discoloration.
How is it diagnosed?
Varicose and spider veins are diagnosed through a physical examination, medical history, and ultrasound.
How do varicose veins differ from spider veins?
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Dilated and elongated veins in the skin are known as telangiectasia (or spider veins). Dilated elongated veins below the skin are known as varicose veins.
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