Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Veins are blood vessels that return deoxygenated blood from the outer parts of the body back to the heart and lungs. When veins become abnormally thick, full of twists and turns, or enlarged, they are called varicose veins.
This happens most commonly in the veins in the legs and thighs.
The thickened, twisting or dilated parts of the vein are called
Varicose veins can form anywhere in the body, but they
are most often located in the legs.
In the United States alone, about 19% of men and
36% of women have varicose veins.
Varicose veins tend to be inherited, and become more prominent as a person ages.
Veins in the leg are either superficial or deep.
The superficial veins and their branches are close to the skin. Also included in this
category are the communicator or perforator veins, which connect the
superficial veins with the deep veins.
The deep veins are encased by muscle and connective tissue,
which help to pump the blood in the veins and back to the heart. The veins
have one-way valves to prevent them from developing varicosities.
Generally, blood travels from the superficial veins to the deep veins. From there, the blood travels through a network of larger veins back to the heart.