Varicose veins are one of the most common venous issues that people can suffer from. Affecting up to a third of all adults, they can cause enough problems to warrant being able to tell them apart from veins that happen to be more visible under your skin. And it’s not just about how they look. How they function is also an important consideration.
Varicose Vein Characteristics
The job of your veins is to carry oxygen-rich blood from around the body, back up to the heart. However, when the vein valves or vein walls become damaged, this can lead to Chronic Venous Insufficiency or CVI. This condition is marked by the blood being unable to sufficiently flow.
Instead, blood begins to reflux or pool. This can either lead to the twisted, enlarged vessels you know as varicose veins or the smaller web-like veins, known as spider veins.
Telling the Difference Between Normal Veins and Varicose Veins
In order to tell the difference between varicose veins and normal veins, you will need to understand how the two differ in function. For instance, healthy veins bring red oxygenated blood from the heart down into the legs and blue deoxygenated blood back up to the heart again. Normal veins aren’t usually visible except when you’re exercising. With physical exertion, veins pump blood to the surface of the skin to keep you cool. However, even when they are visible, they appear below the surface and do not have raised edges.
By contrast, varicose veins tend to appear as raised or even bulging veins, most often a green or purple color. This is because the blue blood mixes with the yellow of the skin pigment in the light. They can also appear twisted and in groups.
In addition, varicose veins can also cause a range of symptoms. Usually, if the affected areas become itchy, swollen, or cause a burning sensation, particularly at the end of the day, you are most likely dealing with varicose veins.
When to Seek Medical Attention for Varicose Veins
If you suspect that you have a varicose vein problem, you will want to get them checked out to be sure they are taken care of early. Varicose veins can sometimes be masked by other veins that are closer to the skin. Seeing a vein expert like Dr. Morse at Grand Junction Vein Center is the best way to check all your veins. He can do a full image scan of your legs or other affected areas using ultrasound technology to observe even the deepest veins.