What are Varicose Veins?

07/14

Varicose veins are very common and generally cause no medical problems in most people. The veins appear on the legs, with a visual appearance under the skin.

We have Deep and Superficial veins in the legs.

The Deep veins are manipulated or squeeze by muscle movement during walking etc. Veins are responsible for carrying (deoxygenated) blood back to the heart. This is called venous return.

The Superficial veins are under the skin and can form varicose veins
Veins carry blood towards the heart. Veins have small valves (door like structures) to prevent blood flowing backwards. If the valves are faulty (door like structures not closing properly) the blood goes backwards into the veins, this causes varicose veins, any raised pressure in these veins can also be a cause of spider veins giving a bruised appearance on the skin.

What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins can be hereditary. Women tend to suffer from varicose veins, due to hormonal factors including puberty, pregnancy, menopause, the contraceptive pill, and HRT can all affect the condition.

Pregnancy: Pregnant women can develop varicose veins during the first three months. Pregnancy causes increases in hormone levels and blood volume which in turn cause veins to enlarge. In addition, the enlarged uterus causes increased pressure on the veins. Varicose veins due to pregnancy often improve within three months after delivery. However, with successive pregnancies, abnormal veins are more likely to remain.

Other predisposing factors include ageing, standing for long periods of time, obesity and leg injury.

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