Varicose veins are veins that are twisted and enlarged. Any vein in the human body may become varicose, but they are commonly found in the legs and feet. This is often due to the pressure exerted on them from standing and walking upright. These veins can range from mild and cosmetic in nature all the way to a symptom of circulatory system problems.
Symptoms of varicose veins include aching and a heavy feeling in legs which only becomes worsened with continuous standing or exercise. The skin may become a discolored brownish-blue and the skin covering the vein may become itchy and dry. The skin may also become darker in the area around the leg due to waste buildup in the legs.
Varicose veins may develop as person gets older as veins lose their elasticity, which in turn causes them to become larger by stretching. The valves in veins may also become weak over time and may develop blood pools. These pools are actually deoxygenated blood that causes the veins to enlarge and become varicose.
For the most part varicose veins do not have any complications, but there are instances where major complications can occur due to circulation problems. These complications may cause pain and an inability to walk or stand for extended periods of time. The itching in the area may cause skin conditions which in turn could lead to skin loss. The skin may also develop painful ulcers, especially in the ankle area. Although not very common these veins may lead to the development of carcinoma from the development of these ulcers.
There are certain risk factors for varicose veins including age, sex, genetics, weight, and activity. The older a person is, the more the veins become worn. This in turn may cause some malfunction in the vein whether it be stretching or pooling. Women are also more likely than men to develop varicose veins, especially during pregnancy. Genetics also plays a role as people that have family members with varicose veins have a greater risk of developing them. Weight and activity levels also are key as obesity puts added stress on the veins as well as standing for long periods of time.