Varicose veins are elongated, dilated, tortuous superficial veins with congenitally absent valves, or valves that have become incompetent. Varicose veins affects legs where the blood flows upwards back into the heart. About 20% of adults have varicose veins. Women are predominantly affected.
Varicose veins can be caused by faulty valves in one or more perforator veins in the lower leg causing secondary incompetence at the saphenofemoral junction. Increased venous pressure from any cause can cause varicosities. Deep thrombophlebitis (inflammation of the veins with thrombus formation) can cause varicose veins. In many individuals, no cause or precipitating factor found.
Risk factors include: Pregnancy; and Occupations requiring prolonged standing, restrictive clothing (e.g., very tight girdles).
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