Seen mostly in thighs, legs and ankles, varicose veins are abnormally enlarged veins, which make your legs and affected areas look unsightly. Often misunderstood as cosmetic problem, it is actually a circulatory disease of the veins.
Understanding Veins and Their Functions
Before understanding the disease, let us get some facts about veins clear:-
- Veins are nothing but blood vessels whose primary function are to return blood from all organs of the body to the heart and then to the lung the blood of the veins are used blood of the organs and contain waste products like carbon dioxide.
- Once the veins return blood to the lung, they are replenished with oxygen and depleted of carbon dioxide. This oxygenated blood is now returned to organs by arteries.
- Veins are also a storage house for unused blood. When the body is inactive or at rest, only a portion of blood circulates and rest remains inactive in the veins. They enter circulation only when the body cries for extra oxygen required during any activity.
- The storing capacity of the veins is due to elasticity (flexibility to expand) of its walls.
- Veins are of different sizes depending on their location and function. The vein in the center of the body is largest and it gets smaller and smaller as it moves away.
- Veins closer to the skin surface are superficial veins, which are connected to the main body veins called deep veins through veins called perforating veins.
What are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Sometimes these veins fail to circulate the blood properly and as a result, they bulge with pools of blood which becomes visible on the skin surface. These veins are referred to as varicose veins. These veins can develop anywhere in the body but mostly develop in the leg region. There are two types of varicose veins:-
- Large varicose veins are visible, bulging, palpable, long and dilated, often greater than millimeters in diameter.
- Small ‘spider veins’ also appear on the skin’s surface and look like small, short, fine lines which form ‘starburst’ clusters or a web like maze. These are often not palpable and apart from thighs, ankles and feet; often appear on face as well. In medical terms, spider veins are referred to as telangiectasias.
Varicose veins are a disease fast spreading today because of changing lifestyle and lack of exercise. Though still a subject under research, it should be treated earliest to avoid major complications in the future.