Varicose Veins

Learn what’s behind what many consider a cosmetic concern.

JoAnne M. Foody, MD, FACC, CardioSmart Editor-in-Chief
Learn more about Varicose Veins

We’ve all seen them, and half of people over age 50 have them. Yes, varicose veins. These twisted, bulging dark purple or blue veins usually appear on your legs or ankles. While they can be cosmetically unpleasant to look at, the good news is they aren’t usually cause for alarm.

Varicose veins develop when valves in the veins that carry blood up toward your heart stop working properly. As a result, blood collects in the veins. The pressure of this pooled blood can actually push the veins above the surface of your skin.

In some cases, varicose veins can cause discomfort and may be a sign of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)—a blood clot in a vein deep in your leg. If you notice any unusual swelling in your leg, pain or changes in skin color, you should contact your health care provider. There are things you can do to get rid of varicose veins or keep them from getting worse. Use this condition center to learn more about varicose veins, create a list of questions to ask your health care provider and get practical tips.

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