Veins carry the blood back to the heart.
They’re similar to arteries but not as strong or as thick.
Unlike arteries, veins contain valves that ensure blood flows in only one direction.
Varicose veins occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated and overfilled with blood.
They typically appear swollen and raised, and have a bluish-purple or red colour and can often be painful.
The condition is very common, especially in women.
Around 25% of all adults have varicose veins.
In most cases, varicose veins appear on the lower legs.
Health experts warn that sitting down too much significantly increases your risk of developing varicose veins.
What is the main cause of varicose veins?
“Sitting for too long [means] blood can pool in your legs,” warns WebMD.
The health site added: “This puts added pressure in your veins which could swell, twist, or bulge.
“You may also see spider veins, bundles of broken blood vessels nearby.”
They usually aren’t serious, but they can ache.
“Your doctor can tell you about treatment options if you need them.”
Dr Ross Perry from Cosmedics UK explained why some veins are more pronounced than others.
“It depends on the natural size and position of the vein,” he said.
“They typically expand more when they are lower than the heart so leg veins are the most common as that is where the most effect of gravity has on them.”
Other causes of varicose veins include:
Being aged over 50
Standing for long periods of time
When varicose veins may be serious
According to HCA Midwest Health, you should speak to your doctor immediately if your veins accompany any of the following symptoms:
Severe and continuous pain and swelling in the legs
Heaviness and/or dull, achy feeling in the legs at the end of the day, or after physical activity
Varicose veins are red and feel warm and tender to the touch
Varicose veins are prone to bleeding on their own or due to injury
Skin surrounding the varicose veins are dry, itchy, discoloured, and/or inflamed
Open sores (ulcers) develop in the skin.