Varicose veins are enlarged veins that appear on the surface of the skin. They may be dark purple or blue and they may bulge and twist. Smaller varicose veins, known as spider veins, look like angry red lines that may appear alone or in a web-like pattern. Any vein in the body can become varicose, but these veins typically appear on the thighs and lower legs.
Symptoms of Varicose Veins
Many varicose veins never cause more than a cosmetic issue, while others might produce the following symptoms:
- A feeling of heaviness or achiness in the lower legs
- Itching or burning sensations on the skin surrounding the varicose vein
- Cramping or swelling in the ankles and lower legs
- A feeling of restless legs, particularly during periods of inactivity
- Open sores that typically appear on the inner leg just above the ankle, known as venous ulcers
When symptoms appear, it is time to talk to a doctor about treatment for your varicose veins. Fortunately there are many treatment options available today, allowing your doctor to customize treatment to your specific needs and symptoms. Most patients experience nearly instant relief from uncomfortable symptoms after varicose vein treatment, although it may take some time for the veins themselves to disappear completely. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, contact USC Vein Centers right away to find out how we can help you alleviate uncomfortable side effects of your varicose veins.
Causes of Varicose Veins
There are many reasons why varicose veins might occur, including:
- Age – Veins lose elasticity as we age and may become more prone to stretching. When that occurs, blood can pool within the veins, enlarging them so they become varicose.
- Pregnancy – The circulatory system changes during pregnancy, allowing blood to flow more freely in the body, but decreasing flow from the legs to the pelvis. This change can result in enlarged veins in the legs, which may or may not improve on their own once the pregnancy is over
- Heredity – Abnormalities in the walls of the vein that contribute to varicose veins might be inherited.
- Excess Weight – Additional weight means additional pressure on the lower body, which can create the right environment for varicose veins
- Prolonged Standing or Sitting – When pressure is maintained on the lower part of the body through prolonged sitting or standing, varicose veins may be the result.
Any of these factors can lead to damaged valves within the veins, which can lead to a pooling of blood and the development of varicose veins.