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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.


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