Varicose veins are unsightly and prevalent, so they are often regarded as simply a cosmetic nuisance. Twenty-five percent of women have varicose veins, and many of them are unhappy about their appearance.

Women with bulging leg veins may feel self-conscious about wearing skirts and shorts. Women are at 10 percent higher risk for varicose veins than men because a pregnancy puts pressure on veins in the legs.

Varicose veins appear during pregnancy or when a person becomes overweight. Unfortunately, there’s even more to varicose veins than meets the eye, and it’s not pretty.

Minor Issues

Varicose veins itch, ache and hurt. Leg muscles will swell and cramp because blood is not distributed properly. Although this seems like an annoyance to be accepted, it is sometimes a symptom of a more serious issue. The bulging of varicose veins occurs when the valve systems within the veins of the legs do not work properly. This causes the blood to pool in the veins and may lead to bigger problems.

What Bigger Problems?

Sometimes the pooling in leg veins causes a clot to form. This is the beginning stage of phlebitis, a painful blockage within a vein. If the clot develops in a deeper vein, it may break out and flow through the bloodstream to the lung, where it can present as a pulmonary embolism. This is a potentially fatal condition.

Venous Conditions May Progress

Varicose veins are a stage in a condition called venous disease. If the condition worsens, varicose veins cause swelling in the legs. The swelling is painful and debilitating. Legs itch and burn, and skin darkens due to pooling of blood. Venous ulcers often develop within this scenario, and painful sores complete the picture.


Hemorrhoids, located in the rectum, are another dismaying form of varicose veins. Although the butt of many jokes, they are anything but funny to those afflicted. Hemorrhoids, like varicose leg veins, are caused by pressure on the veins in the pelvic area. Pregnancy, overweight, constipation and diarrhea all contribute to this painful dilemma.

Hemorrhoids can be external or internal. The internal veins may remain small and swollen, or become large, sagging protuberances pushing outside of the anus. If the blood supply to them is cut off by stool or the sphincter muscle, they can become extremely painful.

The potential for serious debilitation from venous disease is significant. Treatment for varicose veins and hemorrhoids is often successful, and it is recommended that procedures be implemented early in the development of the disease.

Sherry Scovell, a vascular and endovascular surgeon at Massachusetts General Hospital believes early treatment of varicose veins could cut the incidence of venous ulcers by 50 percent.

It’s important to seek a specialist that can cater to your symptoms with their own personal touch before a condition possibly worsens.