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What are varicose veins?

Definition: Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen veins that generally appear on the legs. They are often raised, lumpy, uncomfortable and unpleasant-looking. They form when the valves inside of your veins malfunction and blood winds up seeping down your legs instead of being pumped back up towards your heart. This causes blood to concentrate and swell within weakened areas. Those areas also don't get as much oxygen to them, so the blood is also darker.

According to a recent study, 75% of women and 50% of men in the U.S. suffer from varicose veins and/or spider veins (a less serious form of varicose veins, shown at left).

Varicose veins are genetically inherited. They often occur when there is a hormonal change in your body, when you remain stagnant for more than a few hours at a time, from smoking, from being overweight, and from not drinking enough water. The good news is that they are treatable through surgery, laser treatment and by sclerotherapy — a thin needle injection that safely isolates and destroys the problematic valve inside of the blood vessel.


Join The Conversation
carhornsinapril carhornsinapril 9 years
i've had these on each calf since i was a kid. my mom has them in the same place, so i'm sure it's genetic. mine aren't painful, though.
Advah Advah 9 years
There's definitely a question of genes (good or bad blood circulation), but swimming and walking (especially on uneven grouds, like hills) helps A LOT since it stimulates your blood circulation.
rgrl rgrl 9 years
Spider veins and varicose veins are two different things. Varicose veins are the kind that bulge out from your leg. It is my worst beauty nightmare! I worked with a girl who had them, we were both in our 20's and I couldn't believe someone so young could get them! If God forbid I ever had these, I would spend the big bucks and endure the pain to get rid of them. I heard the treatment is painful.
gabiushka gabiushka 9 years
The treatment with injections is not too pleasant but worth it, laser sounds good too. After that you can use compression stockings to help circulation and make your legs feel like they float, not kidding they feel great and look like the conventional ones.
ErieIndiana ErieIndiana 9 years
Is the treatment painful?
audreyxoxo audreyxoxo 9 years
ew. my mom has these but theyre on her thighs so its not noticable
loveleighdancer loveleighdancer 9 years
I'm only 21 and I can see some spider veins!!! It's from 3 years of waitressing as well as teaching! You don't get a lot of time to sit down when you're chasing little ones around! :)
PJ-PJ-PJ PJ-PJ-PJ 9 years
Yes, imessagad, that picture is an extremely mild case. I have varicose & spider veins. They are not at all pretty. I haven't worn shorts, outside of my home, in a few years now. Thank goodness for capri pants! The corrective treatment is on my list for the future.
imeesagad imeesagad 9 years
i've seen alot worse than that
elle619 elle619 9 years
I was just looking at my legs last night trying to make sure I haven't developed these yet, thanks for the info :)
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I've had laser done to a few small ones I had yrs ago, and would totally do it again.
haute77 haute77 9 years
my worst nightmare...hope i never get varicose. i have some spider veins, but nothing to obvious.
emalove emalove 9 years
I don't ever want these!!
BKNYGal BKNYGal 9 years
I have a real bad complex about my spider veins on my legs..ugh! I'm really thinking of getting that treatment done.
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