Anatomy Physiology

Varicose veins are veins that are no longer hidden under the skin but are pronounced and enlarged veins that bulge outward and are often seen as blue blotches. They can appear gnarled and bulbous and often as not, are unsightly. How do they develop? Lifestyles that are less than accommodating to legs and feet and standing for long periods on the feet are the obvious causes. Pressure on veins by repetitious leg crossing has been mentioned as one cause as well as heredity being blamed for tendencies toward varicose veins. Probably all of the factors combined work together to create this condition.

How do veins become varicosed? As the blood vessels stretch and become less elastic as the years wear on, they take on these contortions as they adapt to their circumstances. The valves which are designed to force the blood to flow only toward the heart often are ineffective and do allow for some backward flow and some blood stagnation. The veins in trying to remain in their space are often longer and in their maneuverings to stay within limits while moving the blood onward, often force the valves slightly open. This allows for stagnant blood to out pouch the veins. All veins have valves that are designed to force the blood to flow only toward the heart.

Women are more vulnerable to varicose veins than men, but men are by no means left out. The signs and symptoms are easily seen and felt. Diagnosis is easy. Tests are done to get a more accurate picture of the blood flow. However, with mild cases, nothing is likely to be done since this is not a high risk condition. Surgery is most often an option for unsightliness although leg pain and leg spasms could also be reasons. Whether a surgeon will recommend a vein ligation – surgically tying often the veins and removing the diseased portion – is dependent upon the extent of the damaged veins.

The veins are vessels that carry carbon dioxide from the various parts of the body back to the heart for more refreshed oxygenated blood. The arteries are the delivery system for fresh oxygenated blood. This fabulous highway system where waste and nutrients each have their own one way streets toward their destinations is a network of infinite variety. Each part of the body has its own special way of carrying out its own missions and the trash collectors are the veins. It’s a marvelous system but heredity and overwork or lack of exercise often causes some portions to become diseased. The veins are one such common area.

Of course the arteries too have their internal problems but they are deeper and are not as readily seen as the veins. The plaque that build up in walls are one such diseased condition that were it seen as easily as we can see varicose veins maybe we would be less prone to neglect treatment. But the arteries are seen and although far less important than what happens to the arteries, are indications that all is not well. Overweight, obesity, pregnancy and the already mentioned heredity factor contribute to diseased and distorted veins. Although often not serious enough for surgery, varicose veins can cause pain, and sometimes leads to skin conditions that then are potential sites for skin ulcers. Varicose veins appear most often on legs but can appear on the face and at other places in the bodies. Hemorrhoids are also varicose veins.