Varicose veins are big, bulging, twisted, blue-ish veins in your legs. If you have them, you’re not alone, because one in five adults suffers from varicose veins.
Most often, patients with varicose veins complain about their appearance. But varicose veins are a type of venous disease, and their presence can signal a more serious vein disorder.
Dr. Rashmi Sharma and her team at Hamptons Vein & Vascular provide high-quality vascular care to patients in Westfield and Rutherford, New Jersey. If you have big, blue varicose veins, we can help find their cause and treat them to improve your vascular health.
What are veins
Your body has two main types of blood vessels that keep blood moving throughout your body: arteries and veins. Blood that leaves your heart travels through your arteries. Your blood returns to your heart through thin-walled structures called veins. Each vein has special valves to keep your blood flowing in one direction.
When a vein problem prevents blood from returning to your heart, you have venous disease, which can affect your superficial veins or deep veins. Superficial veins like varicose veins are close to the surface of your skin, while deep veins are inside your muscles.
Varicose vein problems
When you suffer from varicose veins, the one-way valve in the vein becomes weak, which allows your blood to flow in the wrong direction. As blood pools, your vein swells, causing the unsightly appearance of a varicose vein. This type of venous disease is caused by aging, genetics, being overweight or obese, or standing or sitting for a long time.
Some varicose veins develop because of chronic venous insufficiency when blood pools in your superficial or deep leg veins. Because chronic venous insufficiency can occur in your deep leg veins, you may not have visible signs of varicose veins and you may not know you have this condition.
In addition to varicose veins, signs of chronic venous insufficiency include:
- Skin changes
- Cramping, pain, and discomfort
- Leg ulcers
- Ankle and leg swelling
Varicose veins may also indicate more serious venous diseases, including superficial thrombophlebitis and deep-vein thrombosis (DVT).
Signs of superficial thrombophlebitis
Superficial thrombophlebitis describes vein inflammation that often develops when you have a blood clot that limits blood flow in a vein.
Symptoms of superficial thrombophlebitis include:
- Hardening of the vein
- Red, tender vein
- Skin irritation, inflammation, or discoloration
- Pain in the affected limb
People with superficial thrombophlebitis have a higher risk of developing DVT.
Deep-vein thrombosis develops when a blood clot in your vein prevents blood from circulating. This clot in your vein can break free and travel to your lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism, which can prevent blood flow and lead to death.
Deep-vein thrombosis can develop from:
- Surgery or injury
- Being overweight or obese
- Prolonged sitting, like during long airplane flights
- Long periods of bed rest
- Blood clotting disorder
- Medication containing hormones, like birth control pills
- Heart failure
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Your risk of developing DVT is higher if you’re over age 60 or have a personal or family history of the condition.
Symptoms of deep-vein thrombosis include cramping, pain, or discomfort in your leg. The affected area commonly feels warm and displays a red or discolored appearance. It’s also possible to have deep-vein thrombosis without displaying any symptoms.
If you’re concerned about varicose veins, call Hamptons Vein & Vascular or use our online booking tool.