Arteries carry blood away from the heart, and around the body. Veins carry blood back to the heart. Varicose veins are swollen veins on the surface of the leg that no longer function efficiently. They usually start on the calf, but can be found right up to the groin. They are usually more obvious when you stand up.
Sometimes blood flow pressure can damage or strain the valves in the veins which should only let the blood flow one way – towards the heart. This means blood can collect in pools in the veins.
Varicose veins are made worse by standing for long periods, by being constipated or overweight and by pregnancy. Women tend to suffer from varicose veins more than men!
You will usually see varicose veins before you get any other problems from them.
They appear as wiggly raised lines above the surface of the skin on the legs. You may find that they start to ache as the day goes on. You may also notice that your feet and ankles swell towards the end of the day, especially in hot weather. If varicose veins are left untreated they can become inflamed or even ulcerated.