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Varicose Veins

Summary

Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that you can see just under the skin. They usually occur in the legs, but also can form in other parts of the body. Hemorrhoids are a type of varicose vein.

Your veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing toward your heart. If the valves are weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to swell, which can lead to varicose veins.

Varicose veins are very common. You are more at risk if you are older, are female, have obesity, don't exercise, or have a family history of varicose veins. They can also be more common in pregnancy.

Doctors often diagnose varicose veins from a physical exam. Sometimes you may need additional tests.

Exercising, losing weight, elevating your legs when resting, and not crossing them when sitting can help keep varicose veins from getting worse. Wearing loose clothing and avoiding long periods of standing can also help. If varicose veins are painful or you don't like the way they look, your doctor may recommend procedures to remove them.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

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