Leg veins and varicose veins are part of the body's system of veins. In returning blood back to the heart they form a vital part of whole body nutrition. Waste products from cell metabolism are transported for elimination in mainly the liver, kidneys and lungs.
Being thin-walled, veins are quite distensible and in the legs hold about 60% of the blood volume. This sump holds reserve for necessary body emergencies.
The large skeletal muscles around those veins encased in them act like secondary hearts to pump the blood back to the heart. Valves within each vein act to stop reverse flow when the pressure from the muscles ceases. By the same valve action the flow in veins not encased in muscle is drawn upward into the deeper veins.
Hence, although intermittent, the flow is always back to the heart.
Veins, unlike most arteries, have a more network-like structure, allowing interruption of flow in areas without compromise to the underlying tissues. It is more like a system of city roads, where a detour will allow diversion about a blocked route, without loss in the general traffic movement.
Varicose and Spider Veins
Varicose and spider veins are generally variations on the same problem. It now appears the primary defect in varicose veins is a weakness in the vein wall, which allows the vein to distend to the extent that the valves can no longer close across the lumen to prevent back flow of blood.
There are various causes of varicose veins. Local and gravitational pressures will compound this problem, gradually extending the damaged region. Local trauma can be involved in this sequence. But it appears that some genetic or biochemical trigger or agent begins this process in most cases.
The larger varicose veins usually arise from, or are associated with, defects in the deeper parts of the superficial vein system. As these areas are under higher local pressure they need to be addressed first before control of the visible varicose veins will be successful.
As the underlying vessel wall problem is usually an inherent problem in the varicose veins, new varicose veins can arise over time (analogous to dental decay). Studies seem to indicate a 50% occurrence of new varicose veins over 5 years in surgically treated legs.
Also, the venous system is a dynamic structure that varies with the flow through it. Therefore variations in activity levels and temperature (the body loses a lot of heat through the skin through redirected blood flow) can reveal different underlying vein problems.
Leg veins problems are a correctable part of contributions that distract from our ideals of the perfect pair of legs.
Many people wonder when it is best treat varicose veins. While there is no absolutely answer one innocuous symptom indicates those who should definitely undertake treatment in the near future. There are good reasons to treat them as early as possible. If diabetes is associated there is even more reason to treat your veins.