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How normal are varicose veins?

Are varicose veins normal? I wonder because I have them, but nobody else I know does, and my legs look very unattractive compared with everybody else. How many people get varicose veins?

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Doctors Answers (3)

Varicose veins are a common problem, but are not "normal" veins. In developing varicose veins, there is a genetic component and also the results of pregnancy and prolonged standing (associated with careers such as teaching, nursing, hair stylist and retail). Although anyone may develop varicose veins as a result of mechanical wear and tear, some individuals will be more prone to develop varicose veins early in life.

Varicose veins are not "normal." They are veins in which the valves are malfunctioning (usually due to hereditary, hormones, etc). Often they are the sign of possible valve failure in a vein deeper down, such as the long or short saphenous. You can have symptoms such as heaviness, aching, cramping, restlessness, discoloration over the veins and in the ankles, etc. An evaluation including ultrasound by a board-certified surgeon, vascular-trained, who specializes in varicose veins would be helpful in diagnosing your problem. You should also be measured and fitted into a good quality compression hose. This will be required by insurance if your condition is medically necessary and eligible for insurance. If you have no symptoms, it will be considered cosmetic.

Most of us will get at least minor vacriose veins during our lifetime. Varicose veins are one of the most common medical afflictions and they range from minor cosmetic problems to severe problems with considerable disability and discomfort. Many who have varicose veins cover them with trousers so they are not apparent to others. If you are concerned about your veins, see a vein specialist to get a personal evaluation.

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