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VARICOSE VEINSVaricose veins are veins that are engorged and congested with blood. They often appear like cords or ropes, bulging and raised above the surface of the skin. They are usually blue in color and can vary in size. Veins normally function to return blood from various areas of the body back to the heart. Veins have one-way valves that prevent the blood from flowing backwards as it moves up the legs. If these valves become weakened or incompetent, the blood leaks back and pools. This is called venous insufficiency or venous reflux.
Symptoms of varicose veins may include feelings of fatigue, heaviness, aching, burning, throbbing, and itching in any part of or all of the affected leg or legs. These symptoms are often made worse by standing and severe varicose veins can compromise the nutrition of the skin, causing eczema, inflammation, ulcers, blood clots, and bleeding. This is known as venous stasis disease.
Varicose veins can be caused by heredity (primary reason), age, occupations requiring prolonged standing, obesity, and leg injuries. Hormonal factors including puberty, menopause, pregnancy or any condition causing hormonal increase or increased pressure on the veins can also be contributing factors. Varicose veins affect men as well as women, though not as often. Women are 70% more likely to develop venous disease.
Complications and Chronic Problems from Varicose Veins
Skin Pigmentation (darkening of the skin)
Lipodermatosclerosis (hardening of the skin and fat tissue damage)
Ulceration (open wounds usually seen on the ankle)
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