Normally the veins are taut. However, if the blood flow is too sluggish, the veins slowly get dilated and tortuous in order to accommodate more blood in the lumen. Another possible reason is that the valves in the vein do not function properly and the blood leaks down with gravity and collects in the veins of the legs, although it may also occur in other parts of the body. The cause of piles (or hemorrhoids) around the anus is also due to varicosity of veins around the anus.
Varicose veins can be inherited and if there is a strong predisposition in your family, this may be the most influential risk of all. It is believed that up to 15% adults in the western world are affected by this condition. Varicose veins are more likely to occur in women than in men.
The doctor diagnoses the condition by looking at the typical appearance of the swollen and tortuous veins. Sometimes a venogram (X-ray of the vein) or duplex ultrasound may be advised to find out the underlying cause.
The treatment of varicose veins aims at improving the blood flow back up to the heart. This can be achieved by simple conservative measures like elevation of the leg, exercising regularly and wearing elastic support stockings. In severe cases of varicose veins, stripping or vein removal may be performed. Sclerotherapy is usually performed for cosmetic purposes.
Varicose veins tend to get worse with time. One can ease discomfort and slow varicose veins from getting worse by taking good care of them.
Latest Publications and Research on Varicose VeinsJAMA patient page. Treatment of varicose veins. - Published by PubMed
Translation and validation of the Dutch VEINES-QOL/Sym in varicose vein patients. - Published by PubMed
Inequalities of health insurance guidelines for the treatment of symptomatic varicose veins. - Published by PubMed
European guidelines for sclerotherapy in chronic venous disorders. - Published by PubMed
Suspected inguinal hernias in pregnancy-handle with care! - Published by PubMed