Varicose Veins - Symptoms, Risks, Treatment

Varicose Veins (VV) normally occur in the legs when faulty valves in the veins allow blood to pool or flow backward. They are veins that are enlarged enough to see through your skin. Varicose veins appear blue or purple through the surface of the skin and may be raised or flat. In some people, varicose veins can resemble gnarled tree roots twisting across the skin. Although they primarily occur in the legs and feet, they can occur in virtually any part of your body. For example, hemorrhoids are a type of varicose veins located in your rectum.

Veins have a one-way valve within them that open and close to keep the blood flowing towards the heart.  Weak or damaged veins walls and valves fail to move blood against the force of gravity when blood pressure increases within your veins.  This is referred to as reflux.  Over time, these veins may become enlarged and distorted, resulting in varicose veins.

Varicose veins are quite common.  They affect about half of all people over the age of 50, including 55% of women and 45% of men in the United States.

Symptoms Of Varicose Veins

While varicose veins can be simply cosmetic in some cases, symptoms of VV can worsen and progress over time. Cosmetic varicose veins are normally not a cause for concern, but they can also be a sign of a more serious condition. These symptoms will not go away on their own and should be discussed with a doctor as soon as possible if you have any concern. You may want to seek the advice of a vascular specialist if your symptoms include:

a woman suffering from varicose veins, which can be treated by Maryland Vascular Specialists

  • Bulging, bluish veins
  • Leg Pain
  • A feeling of heaviness in the legs and feet
  • Itching
  • Changes in skin color
  • Nighttime leg cramps

Symptoms can get worse with sitting or standing on your feet for long periods of time.  Symptoms may get better when laying down and elevating your feet.  Varicose veins can limit your activities.

normal vein vs. varicose vein diagram by Maryland Vascular Specialists