What Are Varicose Veins?
They are prominent bulging veins on the legs. They are often accompanied by flares or ‘spider’ veins and may cause skin changes such as darkened patches, scaliness and ulceration.
Many patients seek help from a doctor because of the following reasons:
- Veins are unsightly
- Veins cause pain
- Leg swelling
- Skin pigmentation
- Thrombophlebitis or leg ulcers
The various treatment options available can be confusing and certain methods have a greater success with some people than others.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins have one way valves to keep blood flowing towards the heart. If the valves fail (called ‘incompetent’), the blood pools in the veins and the rising pressure causes the veins to stretch and bulge. Clearly this is made worse by standing up for long periods. Pregnancy typically makes varicose veins worse or more noticeable.
What Are The Symptoms?
Even before they are big enough to see, varicose veins cause local swelling of the skin and stretch tiny nerves in the skin. This can cause aching and heaviness of the legs, a feeling of burning in the legs, ankle swelling and itchy skin.