Varicose veins meaning
Varicose veins meaning or know about Varicose veins from our website. Current and accurate information for patients about varicose vein treatment (endovenous). Learn what you might experience, how to prepare for the procedure, benefits, risks and much more.
Varicose veins are dilated, tortuous, enlarged veins. Any vein may become varicose, but the veins most commonly affected are those in your legs and feet. That’s because standing and walking upright increases the pressure in the veins of your lower body.
For many people, varicose veins and spider veins — a common, mild variation of varicose veins — are simply a cosmetic concern. For other people, varicose veins can cause aching pain and discomfort. Sometimes varicose veins lead to more-serious problems. Varicose veins may also signal a higher risk of other circulatory problems.
The heart continuously pumps blood around the body to distribute nutrients and remove waste. The blood is taken away from the heart in arteries under high pressure passes through meshes of tiny blood vessels in the tissues (eg leg muscles) and is returned to the heart via veins which are thin walled collapsible tubes normally under relatively low pressure.
As veins are thin walled and collapsible the flow within them must rely on pumping from behind, rather than sucking from the heart in front as all this would achieve would be to collapse them.
In the legs there are two main sets of large veins running parallel. The superficial (surface) system and the deep system. Blood in the superficial system flows into the deep system before being carried out of the leg up to the heart.
Humans spend a long time standing up and in this position the heart is about a metre or so higher than the veins in the lower leg. This makes it very difficult to get blood back to the heart from the legs. There are two main mechanisms which normally help the blood back up to the heart. First is the muscle pump in the calf. As the muscles contract they squeeze the blood out of the deep veins lying between them.
Some of this blood will tend to be squeezed up and some down. This is where the second mechanism comes in —- the valves in the veins which, when functioning, allow blood to flow upwards only.
Consequently in healthy legs when the muscles contract they squeeze blood out of the deep veins and as the valves stop it going down it all goes up in the direction of the heart. On relaxation of the calf muscles the pressure in the deep veins lowers and blood flows from the superficial into the deep system. There are also valves which stop blood flowing the wrong way from deep to superficial. Blood flow into the legs is nicely balanced by blood being pumped out and pressure in the veins is kept low.
Normal veins are largely invisible being either near the surface and very small or, if larger, much deeper. In thin or muscular people especially men there may be prominent but normal surface veins but these are easy to recognize cause no problems and require no treatment.