What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are large swollen veins that bulge under the skin and are typically blue or green in color. An abnormal valve or a weakened vessel wall causes the bulging. In a normally functioning vein, the valve prevents blood flowing in the wrong direction back towards the foot. In a varicose vein, the valve is damaged and does not close properly. This allows blood to escape backwards when muscles relax. The result is increased pressure in the vein causing it to become swollen with excess blood. Varicose veins can occur anywhere on the leg.

Superficial Vein System

The Great Saphenous Vein (GSV) and the Small Saphenous Vein (SSV) are the two major veins of the superficial vein system in the legs. The (GSV) is the longest superficial vein which extends from the groin to the foot. The SSV runs from the back of the calf to the lateral ankle. Many superficial veins branch off of both the GSV and the SSV.

If you have a varicose vein, there is a strong probability that it is the result of one of the many valves failing in the GSV/SSV. In a GSV/SSV that functions normally, the valves will close to prevent backflow. When one of the valves functions abnormally in the GSV/SSV, it often causes the GSV/SSV to gradually become larger in diameter. When this happens, the increased pressure causes one of the branching superficial veins that are closer to the surface of the skin to develop into a varicose vein.

Deep Vein System

The physiology of the venous system is very complex. Besides the superficial system, there are veins called perforators, which connect the superficial and deep system. The deep system, which includes the femoral, popliteal, posterior tibial, gastrocneimius, perineal, and soleus veins, to name a few, carry most of the blood flow back from the lower extremities. Most of the blood flow from the leg is carried by the deep system making treatment of the superficial system easier.

Varicose Veins - Reocurrence

Regarding varicose veins, there are many reasons why veins can reoccur. The biggest reason is that your body has the inherent tendency to reform veins. This is part of your genetic makeup. Even though veins are taken care of in one location, they can appear in another location at another date. This is because there may be a problem with valves in a vein or the vein wall itself.

Reasons why Veins Reoccur
  • Neovascularity
  • Perforators
  • Venous insufficiency
  • Pregnancy

There is no cure for venous disease. Your doctor can only treat what is present at this time.

Varicose Veins