Leg veins that swell and bulge so they’re visible under the skin, resembling a tangle of knotted yarn, are known as varicose veins, and they’re usually not a health concern. (That said, it is a good idea to have them checked nonetheless, to rule out relatively uncommon, serious problems such as blood clots.)
However, in many cases, they’re not merely a cosmetic issue, either: they can cause uncomfortable symptoms ranging from a feeling of heaviness, to itching, burning and aching.
So what exactly causes veins to become distended and swollen in this way? And what can you do to alleviate symptoms?
A big thank-you to Dr. John Harlock for so generously sharing his time and expertise. Dr. Harlock is an associate professor of vascular surgery at McMaster University in Hamilton, ON, and president-elect of the Canadian Society for Vascular Surgery.