What are Varicose Veins?

By  ,  Onlymyhealth editorial team
Jan 22, 2013

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Quick Bites

  • Varicose veins occur when veins below the skin's surface are damaged.
  • The risk of developing varicose veins increases with age.
  • Pain in legs, feeling heavy and uncomfortable in the legs are the signs.
  • Treatment options include compression stockings, surgery, sclerotherapy and more.

Varicose veins are superficial blood vessels (that is veins just beneath the skin) which become swollen, twisted, and sometimes painful due to pooling of blood in them. Your risk of developing varicose veins increases with age (about 20 per cent of all adults develop varicose veins).


varicose veins


Varicose veins occurs most often in adults between the ages of 30 and 60 and women are more likely than men (four times) to develop varicose veins. Varicose veins most often occur in the legs and feet. Some other places which can be affected by varicose veins include lower end of the esophagus, the lining of the stomach, the colon, the rectum, the womb and the scrotum.



The veins do not have a pump (like the heart) or muscle tissue in the wall of the vessel to help them carry blood from the different parts of the body to the heart. Blood in the veins is carried passively from the extremity and different parts of the body to heart. Returning blood from the feet and legs, against gravity, to the heart is most difficult. Pumping action of muscles in the legs and valves in the veins aid this process. The valves in veins prevent blood from flowing backward. If the valves do not function well blood is not carried upward efficiently from the feet and legs to the heart. The blood backs up in the veins and the pressure inside them increases. This leads to development of varicose veins –that is the veins swell, become twisted and appear blue.


Many people with varicose veins do not have any symptoms. With time you may develop symptoms such as:

  • pain in legs
  • feeling heavy and uncomfortable in the legs
  • swelling of feet and ankles
  • burning or throbbing sensation in the legs
  • muscle cramp in the legs, (which is usually worse at night)
  • dry, itchy and thin skin in the affected leg over the vein.


Treatment Options

If you don’t have symptoms treatment is not necessary. However varicose veins tend to gradually worsen with time and become symptomatic. If you have symptoms treatment is necessary. Some treatment options for varicose veins include:

  • compression stockings
  • surgery
  • sclerotherapy
  • radiofrequency ablation
  • endovenous laser treatment
  • transilluminated powered phlebectomy.


varicose veins treatment


Your doctor after examination and based on the severity of symptoms will decide on the type of treatment. If varicose veins with symptoms are not treated appropriately it can lead to complications such as bleeding, open sores, and phlebitis. Progression of varicose veins and symptoms can be eased with self-care as well.




Read more articles on Varicose Veins.


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