An estimated 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men in the US develop visible leg veins. In most cases leg veins are simply an aesthetic concern, but sometimes they can cause significant discomfort in the form of pain, itching, burning, fatigue, and swelling of lower extremities.
There are a number of contributing factors that contribute to leg veins, including genetics, obesity or weigh fluctuation, excessive sun exposure, prolonged sitting and standing, hormonal changes (pregnancy, birth control use, menopause), leg injuries, and lack of exercise. These factors can result in two common types of leg veins: varicose veins and spider veins.
Varicose Veins are enlarged (greater than 4 mm in diameter) veins that often look like twisted wires. They can be red, blue, or flesh colored and are often raised above the skin. Varicose veins are most commonly found on the calf area, thighs, or inside of the leg. They form when a vein stops functioning properly, allowing blood to leak down away from the heart and lungs.
Spider Veins are small (less than 3 mm in diameter), painless veins that are close to the surface of the skin and often look like spider webbing. Spider veins are superficial, often red or blue in color, and tend to be extremely visible. Spider veins of the lower extremities may cover a very large surface area of skin.