What are varicose veins?

 

Varicose veins are usually the result of the failure of one or more valves in a vein. This leads to increased pressure in the vein sometimes resulting in a large visible ropey-appearing vein on the leg. Large varicose veins are often a sign that one of the saphenous veins has a failure of its valves. This causes blood to flow down the leg into the bulging vein. When blood flows down a leg vein it is referred to as venous reflux. As time goes by and the pressure persists, the varicose vein will get larger and longer as it attempts to hold back the high venous pressure. Since the leg stays the same length, the varicose vein will first twist like into a snake-like appearance and can eventually curl into a ball of veins.

 

It is important to note that many patients have significant venous disease in one or more of their saphenous veins and do not have any visible varicose veins on the skin surface.

 

Clovis E. Manley, MD

Evansville Regional Vein Center

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