Varicose veins are abnormally enlarged superficial veins, most commonly appearing in the legs. They often appear as purple or blue twisting, bulging vessels that rise above the surface of the skin and are typically the branches of the long and short saphenous veins. Healthy leg veins contain one-way valves that allow the transportation of blood back to the heart, while varicose veins have leaky valves that no longer function properly.
As many as 30 million U.S. adults are affected by superficial venous insufficiency or varicose veins and may have an easily treatable problem. In many patients, however, having varicose veins could be a sign of a more serious underlying health problem and should seek varicose vein treatment immediately.