How do varicose veins affect the body?

Nasser A. Chaudhry, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Varicose veins can be a cosmetic problem, but they can also, and often, be a sign of more serious venous problems, including chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). We can define CVI with the help of ultrasound testing. In an upright position, we assess the competency of the valves in the veins. There can be leaking of the valves (blood flows towards the heart but when the valves leak the blood flows away from the heart) for up to 0.5 sec (normal). When the valves leak longer the patient is classified as having venous insufficiency. Symptoms of venous insufficiency include skin discoloration, itchiness, cramping, swelling, achiness, restless legs and pain (most venous pain occurs at rest). Conservative measures and simple office-based procedures can help with the effects of venous abnormalities on the body.

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Gabriel P. Lasala, MD
Interventional Cardiology
Varicose veins signal that the venous system (the system of veins that return blood to the heart) is not working properly. This can lead to ulcers, bulging veins or edema (an often painful swelling of the legs).

Varicose veins are caused by changes in the circulatory system. Due to changes in blood flow or the elasticity in your veins, blood begins to pool in certain areas rather than being circulated back to the heart. This leads to the blue or purple color of varicose veins. The additional pressure pushes against the vein causing it to grow bigger. In addition to changes in appearance, varicose veins may cause pain.

Continue Learning about Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Large twisted blue or purplish veins visible at the skins surface are known as varicose veins. Any vein in your body can become varicose but it usually occurs in the legs and feet due to the pressure the lower body endures to keep ...

your body upright. It is caused by the weakening of the valves and veins in your legs. Varicose veins are usually hereditary. We are also more prone to get varicose veins as we age. Symptoms include itching, burning, throbbing or cramping in the legs and around the veins. Self-care measures such as exercising, elevating your legs, and wearing compression stockings are used to ease the pain and prevent varicose veins from getting worse. If these measures dont work, see your doctor to discuss medical treatments that are available to close or remove varicose veins.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.