Varicose veins are the largest ropey veins seen in the legs and spider veins are the smaller, often red or blue colored, veins. Varicose veins occur when the vein is not functioning correctly to help bring blood back up towards the heart. The walls of the veins are thinner, much less elastic and weaker then the walls of arteries.
The veins start to enlarge most often in response to pressure on them and this creates a vicious cycle and a worsening venous condition. The pressure is typically from the forces of gravity, the body’s weight and the column of venous blood that has not yet finished its trip back to the heart.
As a varicose vein enlarges it will contain larger volumes of blood, thus putting even greater pressure on the valve below. If the pressure becomes severe enough to exceed the strength of the valve, then the varicosity enlarges further, thus putting even more pressure on the next valve it encounters, as the condition continues to worsen. The effects of gravity, body weight and the “uphill journey” are the primary reasons varicose veins occur almost exclusively in the legs and may be present in either one or both legs.
What are varicose veins?
- Arteries carry blood away from the heart and round the body. Veins carry blood back to the heart.
- Varicose veins are swollen veins on the surface of the leg.
- They usually start on the calf, but can be found right up to the groin.
- They are more obvious when you stand up.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins affect humans because we stand upright rather than run around on all fours. This means that gravity puts pressure on the veins in the legs, and they have to work harder to pump blood back upwards to the heart. Sometimes this pressure can break the valves in the veins which should only let the blood go one way – towards the heart. This means blood can collect in pools in the veins. They are made worse by standing for long periods, by being constipated or overweight, and by pregnancy.
Who gets them?
- Women suffer from varicose veins more often than men.
- You may find that varicose veins appear, or get much worse, when you are pregnant.
- If you are on your feet all day, (especially standing still a lot of the time) you are more likely to suffer from varicose veins.
What are the symptoms?
- You will usually see varicose veins before you experience any other problems from them.
- They are like wriggly lines above the surface of the skin on the legs.
- You may find that they start to ache as the day goes on. you may also notice that your feet and ankles swell towards the end of the day, especially in hot weather.
- If varicose veins get very bad, they can cause ULCERS on the ankles.
- They can also get sore and inflamed, causing redness of the skin around them.
Varicose vein removal
There are several effective methods for varicose vein removal. Sclerotherapy and Endovenous Laser Therapy are our two preferred procedures for varicose vein removal. Dr. Kovak has been helping patients who suffer from varicose veins for over 20 years. Schedule a consultation today and discover which varicose vein removal treatment is right for you.