What are varicose veins?
To understand what varicose veins are, it is important to know the role of veins in the lower limbs. Veins send the blood back to the heart that was previously transported to the ends of the arterial system.

Varicose veins are veins whose valves have become defective, so the blood in them has trouble flowing up against the column of gravity and stagnates in the lower limbs. What happens then is a dilation in the size of the affected veins, which eventually leads to a weakening of vein walls, triggering an irreversible alteration in their integrity.

Who is at risk of developing varicose veins?
Despite the fact that chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a hereditary condition, a number of factors may increase the risk of developing or worsening this condition:
  • Age
  • Number of pregnancies
  • Type of job, i.e., stationary work in a standing position (teachers, hairdressers, waitresses, cooks, pharmacists, etc.)
  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Presence of pelvic varices. It is fairly common to find that varicose veins in the lower limbs originate in diseased veins in the pelvis: ovarian or uterine varices (among others).
  • Family history
  • Lifting heavy loads
  • Trauma to a leg
  • Restless legs
  • Burning sensation
  • Tired, heavy legs
  • Swelling of the legs and/or ankles
  • Pain or cramps during exercise, but more often at rest
  • Change in the skin, darkening
  • Ulcers (small craters at the ankles)
  • Itching of the skin
What are the consequences of untreated varicose veins?
It is important to understand that chronic venous insufficiency is a progressive disease. If left untreated, this condition can develop into superficial thrombophlebitis, dermatitis stasis and ultimately, varicose ulcers.

It causes venous hypertension in the lower limbs, which cause local edema (swelling) when too much blood is not recycled to the heart.

In some cases, the swelling is insignificant, but it still leads to local intra and extravascular phenomena as well as complex inflammatory reactions. This causes visible and irreversible changes in the extremities unless corrective measures are taken.

Chronic venous disease causes a loss of quality of life for many people who are affected. In social and economic terms, it results in lost productivity and higher absenteeism.

Some studies have shown that a signification percentage of patients with chronic venous insufficiency also suffer from depression because of their condition (chronic pain, shy about being seen in public, etc.)

Be proactive!