Varicose veins are large, swollen veins that are purple and blue in colour.
Varicose veins present themselves when the tiny valves inside the veins themselves stop working. Healthy veins see the blood run through them to the heart. The blood is averted from streaming backwards by a collection of minute valves that repeatedly open and close in order to let the blood pass. If the valves weaken or are damaged in some way, the blood is free to flow backwards and assemble in the vein itself causing swelling. This then becomes a varicose vein.
The probability of developing varicose veins is increased by pregnancy, being overweight and growing old.
Varicose veins are very common, with 3 out of 10 adults identifying themselves as sufferers. It is acknowledged that women are more likely to develop the condition than men. Any vein in the body can develop into a varicose vein but they are most common in the calves, thighs and feet. This is because of the pressure that the veins endure when standing.