Varicose Veins Explained

Many people have veins lying just below the skin which are visibly swollen and distorted. These veins are usually in the lower legs and are known as varicose veins. They can also be found in other parts of the body such as the rectum and the lower part of the oesophagus.

The problem of varicose veins affects approximately one in five adults and is usually found to be more prevalent in those people who are older. However the problem can occur frequently in younger people and tends to have a variety of causes.

Varicose veins are rarely harmful to the sufferer, though they can cause discomfort and are often very unsightly.


The reason people develop varicose veins can be varied, and it’s dependent on the cause as to where the varicose veins will develop.

Veins have a one way system of valves in place to stop blood flowing backwards down into the legs. If these valves become damaged, and don’t close properly the blood then flows backwards into the superficial veins which lie just under the skin. These veins struggle to cope with the backflow of blood and then become distorted and damaged. (This is varicose veins)!


If the valves in the legs become further damaged, then the distortion becomes worse. This may lead to a form of dermatitis and ultimately leg ulcers. (Varicose leg ulcers are usually found on the inside of the leg)

Varicose veins can often be an inherited problem. i.e. if your mother suffers from varicose veins, there is a good chance you will develop the same problem.

Varicose veins are usually to be found predominantly in women, though of course many men can suffer from the condition as well. The reason it is so predominant in women is because the female hormone progesterone (Which is the pregnancy hormone), causes veins to dilate.

This then encourages the formation of varicose veins, and is why this problem is prevalent in pregnant women. A classic place for a varicosed vein in pregnancy is in the pelvic region, this is because of the pressure placed by the foetus on the pelvic region.

Miscellaneous Causes

Other factors in the prevalence of varicose veins include

    • Being overweight
    • Occupations involving standing for long periods of time
    • Blood clot (Thrombosis) blocking the deep veins in the leg

In most cases, it isn’t necessary to “surgically treat” varicose veins though of course many people vote for this option because of cosmetic reasons.


If sufferers are happy to treat themselves, there are a number of ways they can do this which include the wearing of elasticated stockings and comfortable shoes.

If surgery is needed, there are a variety of methods.

If the affected veins are below the knees and are small, then it is possible to have them injected with a solution to make the walls of the veins stick together. This then prevents the blood from entering the affected veins.

If above the knees, then the varicose veins can be stripped away. The problem with this method though is there is a possibility the problem will reoccur.