Varicose veins are swollen, twisted, and sometimes painful veins that have filled with an abnormal collection of blood.
- Varicose vein stripping
- Venous insufficiency
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With varicose veins, the valves do not function properly, allowing blood to remain in the vein. Pooling of blood in a vein causes it to enlarge.
This process usually occurs in the veins of the legs, although it may occur elsewhere. Varicose veins are common, affecting mostly women.
- Defective valves from birth (congenitally defective valves)
Standing for a long time and having increased pressure in the abdomen may make you more likely to develop varicose veins, or may make the condition worse.
Primary varicose veins occur because of congenitally defective valves, or without a known cause. Secondary varicose veins occur because of another condition, such as when a pregnant woman develops varicose veins.
Pictures & ImagesVaricose veins
Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, painful superficial veins resulting from poorly functioning valves. Varicose veins usually occur in the veins of the legs, although it may occur elsewhere. It is a common condition, affecting mostly women.Circulatory system
Blood used by the body is brought back to the heart and lungs by the veins of the body. Once the blood has gathered more oxygen from the lungs, it is pumped back out to the body through the arteries.
Review Date : 6/1/2009
Reviewed By : Jeffrey Heit, MD, Internist with special emphasis on preventive health, fitness and nutrition, Philadelphia VA Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.