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There are significant differences between normal healthy veins and varicose veins. It’s a common assumption that varicose veins only represent a cosmetic concern, when in fact, they can be indicative of serious health problems. If you suspect that you might have chronic venous insufficiency, it’s time to make an appointment with a vein specialist in the Houston area.

How do healthy veins work?

Your heart is a powerful organ that pumps oxygenated blood to the rest of your body. The veins, which are smaller blood vessels than the arteries, are responsible for carrying deoxygenated blood back to the heart. The veins do not have the benefit of an organ that contracts to force blood to move in the proper direction. Instead, they have a series of valves. As blood travels up your legs, it is prevented from flowing backward by these valves and encouraged to move forward by the muscle contractions of the legs. When your veins are healthy, you shouldn’t notice them.

Why do varicose veins develop?

On the other hand, varicose veins are highly noticeable. They appear as enlarged, gnarled, twisting blood vessels beneath the surface of the skin. These varicose veins symptoms develop when there is a problem with the proper movement of the blood. The valves may fail, allowing blood to pool and causing the veins to enlarge. Varicose veins are slightly more common among women. Certain risk factors may contribute to their development, including genetic history, pregnancy, prolonged standing and obesity.

What can I do to keep my veins healthy?

There are a few things you can do to support the health of your circulatory system. Getting regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight are particularly important steps to take. Your doctor may offer additional recommendations, such as elevating your legs periodically, changing your sitting or standing position at intervals throughout the day, and wearing graduated compression stockings.

How can I treat veins that are already enlarged?

If you already have varicose veins, you can visit a vein specialist to discuss your treatment options. Conservative treatments include wearing compression stockings and losing weight. You may also benefit from a procedure such as sclerotherapy, endovenous ablation, or ambulatory phlebectomy.