What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose means “dilated, distended or overinflated.” Varicose veins usually appear bluish in color, ropy, enlarged or dilated, irregular and twisted, winding back and forth, and protruding under the skin due to the malfunctioning valves. Varicose veins are commonly ¼ inch or larger in diameter and unsightly to look at.
In a varicose vein, the valves no longer close as designed (venous insufficiency) and blood now pools (stasis) and/or flows backward (reflux). The vein walls have lost their normal elastic and muscle fibers and have become thin and weak. Symptoms may become apparent in varying degrees.
Varicose Veins as Part of a Larger Problem
The varicose veins that you see in your legs are usually only part of the problem. It is important to realize that the source of the problem often is not visible. Your legs contain a network of fairly large superficial veins known as the saphenous venous system. Think of your leg veins like a tree. The saphenous veins are the “trunk”, the “branches” become the varicose veins, and then the “twigs” may appear as spider veins. Your symptoms most commonly come from your diseased saphenous veins which are mostly unseen. It is important to seek medical advice from a vein specialist as soon as these symptoms begin to interfere with your everyday activities.