Spider Veins Spider Veins
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose (VAR-i-kos) veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the surface of the skin. These veins usually occur in the legs. However, they also can form in other parts of your body.
Varicose veins are a common condition. They usually cause few signs or symptoms. In some cases, varicose veins may cause complications, such as mild to moderate pain, blood clots, or skin ulcers.
Veins are blood vessels that carry blood from your body’s tissues to your heart. The heart pumps the blood to your lungs to pick up oxygen. The oxygen-rich blood is then pumped out to your body through your arteries.
From your arteries, the blood flows through tiny blood vessels called capillaries, where it gives up its oxygen to the body’s tissues. Your blood then returns to your heart through your veins to pick up more oxygen.
Veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If your valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell and can lead to varicose veins.
A number of factors may increase your risk for varicose veins. These include family history, age, gender, pregnancy, overweight or obesity, and lack of movement.
Varicose veins are treated with lifestyle changes and medical procedures. The goals of treatment are to relieve symptoms, prevent complications, and improve appearance.
Varicose veins usually don’t cause medical problems. If your varicose veins cause few signs and symptoms, your doctor may suggest simply making lifestyle changes.
In some cases, varicose veins can cause complications, such as pain, blood clots, or skin ulcers. If your condition is more severe, your doctor may recommend one or more medical procedures. Some people choose to have these procedures to improve the appearance of their varicose veins or to relieve pain.
A number of treatments are available for varicose veins that are quick and easy and don’t require a long recovery time.