Varicose veins are large, raised, swollen blood vessels that twist and turn. They usually develop in the legs and can be seen through the skin. Spider veins are smaller, red, purple, and blue vessels that are also twisted and turning. Spider veins are easily visible through the skin as well. They are most often seen on the legs, chest, or face.
Varicose veins develop more often in women than in men. They increase in frequency with age. An estimated 30% to 60% of adults have varicose veins.
A number of factors predispose a person to varicose veins. These include:
– Heredity (passed on from a parent to a child through genes)
– Occupations that involve a lot of standing, such as seen among nurses, hair stylists, teachers, and factory workers
– Hormonal influences during pregnancy, puberty, and menopause
– The use of birth control pills
– Postmenopausal hormonal replacement
– A history of blood clots