- Reviewed by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
Nobody wants varicose veins. They're all purply-blue, a mass of gnarled, bulging blood vessels visible in the lower legs. More than being unsightly, the veins can lead to leg swelling, tired and achy muscles, hard-to-heal ulcers that can get infected, and even disability. Fortunately, treatment for varicose veins has advanced steadily. And it's poised to take another leap forward.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins stem from problems with the "superficial" veins in the legs — that is, those near the surface, located about half an inch below the skin. Like all leg veins, superficial veins have one-way valves that open as blood is pumped up toward the heart, and close to keep blood from flowing back down into the legs.
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About the Author
Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter
About the Reviewer
Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter
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