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What are varicose veins?

This question was asked in Irvine, California and has 9 answer(s) as of 04/30/2013.
What exactly are varicose veins? I have blue veins on my legs but I do not know what kind they are. I have had them for a few years and they have gotten darker. They look tangled and hurt sometimes. How do I know what kind of veins they are?


Doctors Answers (9)

Thank you for your message. I like to use the term 'varicose vein disease' to describe the constellation of veins that I encounter in my patients. This expression refers to a spectrum of veins of different sizes. In answering this question, I like to use a tree as an analogy. Trunk involvement refers to the saphenous veins that lie below the skin. These have historically been stripped out, but nowadays, are very effectively treated with 'heat' via laser or radio frequency ablation. Large branches off the trunk are the 'lumpy, bumpy, snake-like' veins on the skin surface we call varicose veins. These can be treated with cutting or injecting (ambulatory phlebectomy AP or sclerotherapy, respectively). Small branches are those blue-green veins on the surface called reticular veins. Usually best treated with sclerotherapy. Leaves are the spider veins (telangiectasia) usually in close approximation with the small branches. Best treated with sclerotherapy.

Any abnormal veins which cause pain, tenderness, or swelling should be evaluated by a phlebologist. Technically, a varicose vein is an enlarged vein measuring over 3 mm in diameter, but sometimes even 1 mm diameter veins can cause pain or tenderness and there may be more significant vein problems under the surface.

Typically veins are categorized by size and those larger bulging rope like veins are classified as varicose veins. You would really benefit from an ultrasound study to gauge whether or not you suffer from venous reflux.

What you have described so well sounds like varicose veins. If you will go to out website there are some great examples of varicose veins. Varicose veins are frequently dilated, tortuous and painful. Chronic venous insufficiency or (CVI) is the most common cause of varicose veins. The good news is that varicose veins can be corrected through multiple types of in office procedures. In many cases this will be covered by your health insurance.

Varicose veins are enlarged usually twisting blue veins larger than 3 mm in diameter. Veins return blood to the heart. One-way valves are present in most veins to keep blood from flowing back down the vein. In varicose veins, these valves don't work well resulting in blood pooling in the veins.

By definition, varicose veins are abnormal veins greater than 3 mm in diameter that protrude under the skin and have pooling blood. They frequently look blue, but can look greenish, purple, or black, or they can be colorless-just causing the skin to bulge but the skin looks normal in color. They can cause pain or they can be painless. Over time, varicose veins can get darker, larger, more painful, and even form blood clots. Reticular veins are like varicose veins, except narrower. By definition they are 1-3 mm in diameter, so they are not as large and they do not bulge as much as varicose veins. They can be just as noticeable because they are closer to the top layer of the skin, and they are blue or bluish green. They can cause skin discomfort, itching, and burning, or they can cause no symptoms. Spider veins are very thin (less than 1 mm diameter) abnormal veins on the surface of the skin. They can be red, blue, purple, or blackish. They are usually in clusters, and they usually cause no symptoms, but sometimes they can cause burning, itching, or dryness of the skin.

Varicose veins are enlarged from normal veins (over 3mm in diameter) and often become twisted and coiled resulting in reduced or absent venous blood flow, increased venous pressures, prone to superficial blood clots (phlebitis), aching and sore especially at the end of the day. Other attached normal veins may become damaged and over time may also become enlarged varicose veins. Normal veins tend to be rather smooth and straight with branching but varicose veins become very distorted both is their size and in their shape.

Varicose veins are mainly found within the superficial vein system of the lower legs. The veins are damaged which results in blood pooling in veins. The veins then swell, bulge, and twist. The veins then become visible. The varicose veins can cause pain, throbbing, aching, itching, burning, fatigue, heavy sensation, swelling, skin changes about the ankles, and ulcers about the ankles. If you suffer from varicose veins you should be evaluated by a vein specialist before you feel that treatment is only because of how the veins look.

Varicose veins are leg veins that are distended from blood due to a reversal of flow. This is usually due to an inherited condition which causes some vein's 1-way valves to fail. You may have flat non-bulging veins which can cause spider veins to appear, or large bulging veins which usually derive from deeper saphenous veins. A simple exam by a plebologist will provide a quick answer.

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