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Facts About Varicose Veins

Varicose veins affect an estimated 40% of women and 25% of men. Factors leading to varicose veins include heredity, gender, pregnancy, age and other factors. Some factors may speed up the development of this disease and make the veins worse, including prolonged standing, obesity, hormone levels, and physical trauma.

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Symptoms: Will They Get Worse?

In addition to the visual appearance, many patients may experience one or more of the following leg symptoms:

  1. Pain (aching, throbbing or cramping feeling)
  2. Heaviness/leg fatigue
  3. Burning, itching or tingling sensations
  4. Swelling/edema
  5. Tender areas around the veins
  6. Restlessness
If you experience symptoms and delay treatment, your symptoms may progress onward to more serious complications including:

  1. Inflammation (phlebitis)
  2. Blood clots (DVT)
  3. Ankle sores or skin ulcers
  4. Bleeding

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, consult your physician, as treatment may be required.

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Varicose Vein Diagram

How Do Veins Work?

Arteries carry blood from your heart out to your extremities, delivering oxygen deep into the tissue. Veins then return the “de-oxygenated” blood back to your heart to be re-circulated. To return this blood to the heart, your leg veins must work against gravity. Small, one-way valves in the veins open to allow blood to flow upward, towards the heart, and then close to prevent it from flowing down and back towards the legs

There are two venous systems in the legs, the deep venous system and the superficial venous system. The deep venous system, located deep in the muscles of the legs, carries the majority of blood out of the legs toward the heart. The superficial venous system connects all of the veins close to the skin, including those veins that, over time and with increased pressure, can dilate and become varicose veins. There are small veins that connect the deep and superficial venous systems called perforating veins.

How Varicose Veins Occur: Venous Reflux

Varicose veins occur when the valves in superficial leg veins malfunction. When this occurs, the valves may be unable to close, allowing blood that should be moving towards the heart to flow downward (called venous reflux). Blood collects in your lower veins, increasing the pressure in those veins and causes them to enlarge and become varicose veins.

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