Varicose Veins

What are varicose veins?           

Veins are part of the circulation of your body.  Arteries carry oxygen rich blood away from your heart to the body’s tissues.  Veins return the blood back to the heart after the body has used the oxygen.  Varicose veins are distended, gnarled veins that are close to the skin’s surface.  They often are blue in appearance. Within the veins, valves open and close, moving the blood toward the heart, and keeping it from flowing backwards.  When the valves begin to malfunction, blood flows backwards in the vein, causing blood to pool, or collect within the veins.  Pooling of blood in the veins in the leg leads to ankle and calf swelling, a feeling of leg heaviness and fatigue, and leg pain. These symptoms seem to worsen with prolonged standing, in warmer weather, and with menstrual cycle. 

As the blood continues to pool in the veins, the pressure within that vein increases.  This pressure causes the veins to enlarge, and even twist.  When the veins are enlarged, the already malfunctioning valves are unable to close properly.  These veins are called varicose veins. 

What causes varicose veins?

Many things can cause varicose veins.  The most common causes include:

What can you do to minimize varicose veins?

The key is to minimize the appearance of varicose veins and prevent progression of the disease.  Some steps that you can do to improve your vein circulation include: