Why We See Varicose Veins Primarily in the Legs

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 20 percent of adults in our country have varicose veins. We often talk about the cosmetic frustrations associated with varicose veins. Sure, the appearance of bulging, ropy veins on the legs can create self-consciousness. Many people with noticeable leg veins avoid wearing certain clothing styles so they can literally keep their veins under wraps. This is the mild side of varicose veins, folks. Without treatment, these extended veins pose a risk of bleeding, blood clots, infection, and skin ulcers.

Why the Legs are the First Place to Find Clues

It is possible for varicose veins to develop just about anywhere on the body. However, we most commonly see them on the lower legs. The simple reason is that the body is responsive to the force of gravity, right down to the arteries that send blood into the body and the veins that return blood back to the heart. Where do many veins exist? In the limbs.

If veins exist in the arms and hands, why don’t we see varicose veins in these places? One reason is that blood has a much shorter distance to travel from the heart to the arms and back again. The legs are the farthest point to which blood travels. Not only that, but the lower part of the body is where gravitational pull is more intense.

Once blood is delivered to the legs and feet via arteries, it enters the complex matrix of veins that extend upward. The natural pumping of incoming blood furthers fluid through the veins but it doesn’t work on its own. The veins in the legs also rely on muscle movement in the calves to push blood upward. Muscle movement is necessary, but this also doesn’t work on its own. For blood to move properly, it must stay in forward motion. This is facilitated by valves along the length of the veins in the legs. Here is where it can go wrong. When valves become weak, they don’t close fully enough for blood to continue on its proper path. Blood pools a little at a time, stretching the vein until it finally becomes visible, achy, and painful.

Venous function may be relatively complex, but vein treatments are not. We can help you get rid of varicose veins or spider veins. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Lee in our Sherman Oaks office, call  (818) 325-0400.

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