Leg veins are caused by dilated blood vessels or veins that have become enlarged and are therefore visible on the surface of the skin. There are different types of leg veins ranging from the finer "thread" or "spider" veins to the larger "varicose" veins. Leg veins can be painful and can cause aching and cramping in the legs. Thread veins and spider veins tend to be red, purple or blue in colour and are flat on the skin whereas varicose veins tend to be lumpy or bulge and are usually blue/purple in colour.
Leg veins are caused by weak or damaged valves in the veins. Veins carry blood back to the heart, and your leg muscles squeeze the blood back from your lower body. Veins have ‘one way valves’ inside them that stop the blood draining back down the leg from the effect of gravity. If these valves become weakened or damaged blood leaks back down the leg causing it to collect, putting pressure on the vein enlarging it and making it more visible. This is known as venous insufficiency. Veins can appear for no reason at all, although there are certain factors that are linked to their development. Genetics are thought to play a part as well as hormonal changes in the body, such as during pregnancy, and the ageing process. Being overweight can also be a contributing factor as can standing and sitting for long periods of time. Leg veins can also appear at the site of an injury. Flying can exacerbate the symptoms of leg veins and can lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Varicose veins form when the blood is not flowing properly and flows backwards in the vein causing it too "pool" and the vein to "bulge". Varicose veins tend to be more prominent than thread veins and are usually blue or purple in colour. They can cause aching and pain in the legs.
Thread veins are extremely common and are basically just small, dilated blood vessels, which appear on the surface of the skin. They are usually red or purple in colour and are also known as broken veins and telangiectasia
Spider veins are a type of thread vein, so called because of their "spider-like" appearance. They tend to have a central cluster of vessels (like a body) with other vessels coming out of it (like legs). They may also have a "web-like" appearance. Spider veins are extremely common and are basically just small, dilated blood vessels, which are visible on the surface of the skin. They are usually red, purple or blue in colour and are also known as broken veins and telangiectasia.
Leg veins can be found anywhere on the legs including the thighs, calves and ankles.
Anyone can get leg veins. Genetics and age can play a role and people who are overweight are more susceptible. They are also more common in women, particularly pregnant women.