More than 80 million people in the United States have problems with their veins, the vessels that return blood to the heart once it has circulated through the body. Many people suffering from venous disorders come to vascular surgeons looking for treatment to either relieve pain or improve the visible appearance due to diseased veins.
Veins have one-way valves that help keep blood flowing in the proper direction. If these valves stop functioning the way they are supposed to, blood can flow backwards and pool in the vein branches, causing them to stretch and become varicose veins. This condition is known as venous insufficiency.
These enlarged blood vessels fall into two groups: spider veins and varicose veins. Spider veins are visible on the surface of the skin as red, blue or purple lines. Varicose veins are larger and deeper and often look like bluish bumps under the skin.