are the soft, thin-walled tubes that return blood from the arms and
legs to the heart. Because veins work against the force of gravity, they
have valves that allow forward blood flow, but not reverse. Your legs
and arms have two major types of veins: superficial and deep. The
superficial veins are near the surface of the skin and are often
visible. The deep veins are located near the bones and are surrounded by
muscle. Connecting the deep and superficial veins is a third type of
vein, the perforator vein. Contraction (squeezing) of the muscles in the
arms and legs with exercise helps blood flow in the veins.
veins are enlarged, bulging superficial veins that can be felt beneath
the skin, generally larger than 3-mm in diameter. They are usually
located on the inside of the calf or thigh and develop due to weakness
of the vein wall and loss of valve function. Under the pressure of
gravity, they continue to enlarge, and in the course of time, they may
become elongated, twisted, pouched, and thickened.
veins or telangiectasia are tiny dilated, veins, usually less than 1-mm
in diameter, located at the surface skin layers. Spider veins cannot be
felt. Veins larger than the spider veins, but still under 3-mm are
called reticular veins. Varicose veins may be entirely symptom-free and
cause no health problems. Treatment in such cases is often for cosmetic
purposes. When symptomatic, varicose veins may cause ankle and leg
swelling, heaviness or tension, aching, restlessness, cramps, and
itching. Varicose veins are more often symptomatic in women than in men.
Signs of chronic venous disease include skin pigmentation (usually
rusty brown), and loss of the soft texture of the skin and underlying
tissue in the ankle area (called induration). Itching is perhaps the
most consistent symptom of varicose veins in men. Women most often
complain of leg heaviness, tension, and aching.
Causes of Varicose Veins
causes of varicose veins may be primary, secondary, or congenital.
Varicose veins of primary cause develop as a result of an inherent
weakness in the wall of the vein. Varicose veins can have a hereditary
factor and often occur in several members of the same family. Varicose
veins that develop after trauma or deep vein thrombosis are of secondary
cause. Congenital varicose veins are due to disorders in the natural
development of the venous system, and usually are part of a vascular
malformation in the limb, present at birth. In addition to varicose
veins, these individuals may also have an enlarged and longer limb and
often have birthmarks (port-wine stains), like in Klippel Trenaunay
Syndrome (KT syndrome). No matter the cause, defective venous
valves may cause venous blood to stagnate in the leg, leading to
increased pressure in the veins. This may result in further enlargement
of the varicose veins, increasing the likelihood of symptoms, and
causing complications such as skin changes and ulcer formation. Blockage
of the pelvic veins may severely aggravate the effects of varicose
veins, requiring a separate treatment.
Risk Factors for the Development of Varicose Veins
The most important factors leading to the development of varicose veins include:
Prior superficial or deep vein clots
physical activity, a higher blood pressure, and obesity have also been
linked with the presence of varicose veins in females.