What Are Varicose Veinss?

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Spider veins and varicose veins are both types of venous insufficiency. Spider veins are smaller than varicose veins and closer to the surface of the skin. They are usually red, blue or purple in color and look like threads or tree branches. Spider veins are usually seen on the legs, but are also common on the face and may appear on any part of the body. Varicose veins are usually in the legs and are caused by the pooling of blood in the vein because it is not properly pumped to the heart. This is mainly because the valves in the veins that push the blood to the heart become weak and do not function properly. Varicose veins are seen below the skin as bulging, swollen and twisted veins.

The most common signs that varicose veins may be developing are:

• Aching in the legs that becomes worse after sitting or standing for long periods.

• Cramping and throbbing in the legs

• A feeling
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Spider veins can be caused by exposure to the sun, an injury and the backup of blood because of venous insufficiency. Other causes include:

• Aging – the valves in the veins will naturally weaken with age

• Changes in hormone levels – during pregnancy, menopause and puberty as well as when birth control pills are taken or during hormone replacement therapy (HRT) there is a higher risk of varicose and spider veins forming.

• Being overweight – can put pressure on the leg veins and slow the movement of blood. This pressure may cause the valves in the veins to weaken.

• Lack of exercise – exercise causes the muscles to move which helps circulation by pushing the blood in the leg veins.

• Standing or sitting too long – a job that requires hours of standing can force the veins to work harder which will weaken them over time. Sitting for long periods can greatly reduce circulation in the legs.

• Direct sunlight – for fair-skinned people, exposure to direct sunlight for long periods can cause spider veins on their cheeks and
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