What exactly are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged vessels that mainly occur in the venous system in the legs.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, often lumpy, shimmering blue veins. Basically, any vein can turn into a varicose vein, but the superficial veins in the legs are commonly the most affected. Most adults have at least fine varicose veins which are often referred to as spider veins.
Moderate varicose veins generally do not cause any health problems. But when varicose veins worsen over the years, discomforts can increase, and treatment becomes necessary.
How do varicose veins develop?
A widely branched network of blood vessels runs through the human body to transport oxygen, nutrients and metabolic products. Via the arteries, the heart pumps oxygen-enriched blood into all organs and tissues, and the veins transport the used blood back to the heart. The transport of blood back to the heart is assisted by the action of venous valves.
Venous valves only allow the blood to flow in the direction of the heart. If these valves no longer close properly, the blood flows back into the legs and accumulates inside the veins, which expand due to the increased pressure. These dysfunctional veins are referred to as varicose veins, varices or insufficient veins.
In most cases, varicose veins are caused by a congenital weakness of connective tissue. Age, hormones and overweight are also relevant. Regular long periods of standing and sitting also encourage the dysfunction.
Pronounced varicose veins result in disrupted transport of the venous blood and can therefore lead to the typical discomforts and complications.
Symptoms and complications
Varicose veins cause feelings of tension or heaviness in the legs. In an advanced stage, accumulating water in the tissue usually evokes typical symptoms and complications such as heaviness, pain and swelling and, in extreme cases, open wounds.
Depending on the manifestation of the venous weakness, skin changes and painful vein inflammations occur. The worst cases result in skin ulcers. Taking these complications into account, everyone suffering from varicose veins should take remedial action.