Veins carry oxygen-poor blood back to the heart after it has delivered essential nutrients to our body's tissues. They have one-way valves every few inches that help keep blood flowing in the right direction. If these valves leak or become blocked, some blood may flow backwards and pool in the vein. Blood pressure rises and the vein weakens under the additional strain so that its elastic walls balloon outward. Any of the body's veins may be affected by venous disease, including the superficial veins just beneath the skin, the deep veins near the bones, and the perforating veins that carry blood between the two.
Also called venous insufficiency, venous disease can result in a number of cosmetic disfigurements and health problems, from spider veins and varicose veins to blood clots and skin ulcers. Common symptoms include swelling and discomfort as well as skin discoloration, skin thickening, spider veins at the ankles, and leg ulcers.
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