What are they?

VARICOSE VEINS is the medical term for describing dilated and tortuous veins normally visible on the surface of the body. The most common site for the occurrence of varicose veins is the lower limb although they can also occur anywhere on the surface of the body or within the body itself.

Varicose veins affecting the lower limbs tend to run in families but are also aggravated by pregnancy, hormones and other environmental factors. They are not particularly dangerous, although they can be painful, unsightly and cause damage.

Varicose veins can be primary (inherited). They can also be secondary to a previous episode of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot formation in a central vein). They are occasionally associated with abnormal vessels inside the limb or body. They appear as bulges under the skin and are ropey and tortuous in appearance. When the limb is elevated they generally improve but refill on standing.

Visible wavy blue vessels and spider veins should not be referred to as varicose veins, although a varicose vein deep in the limb may be causing their appearance on the skins surface.

Image: Large Varicose Vein