Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged veins, often dark blue in color, near or raised above the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are often a symptom of an underlying condition called venous insufficiency.
In healthy veins, one way valves direct the flow of the venous blood upward and inward. Blood is collected in the superficial small veins and flows into the larger veins. The blood eventually passes through valves into the deep veins and then centrally to the heart and lungs. When one or more of these valves fail to function correctly, some blood flows down the leg in the reverse direction. The blood tends to overfill and distend the branches of the superficial veins under the skin.
Over time the veins stretch, bulge and become visible. These swollen, engorged or rope-like veins are called varicose veins. The valves inside these veins no longer close allowing blood to leak back down the leg causing more distention of the vein.
Varicose veins affect approximately 30% of the U.S. population (70% being female and 30% male). Varicose veins are superficial veins that have become enlarged and have lost their ability to effectively transport blood. 90% of all blood volume is carried by the deep system and the normal channels so the varicose veins are not effectively contributing to your overall circulation. If left untreated, severe varicose veins can ultimately lead to chronic leg swelling, eczema-type symptoms, skin thickening and discoloration, and even ulcerations that won’t heal until the veins are treated.
View North Shore Vein Center Treatment Options For Varicose Veins HERE
Blood Flow in Normal Veins
Blood Flow in Insufficient Veins
Videos Courtesy of CoolTouch.