DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DR P. MARAZZI / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Varicose vein. Close-up of an enlarged superficial vein behind a woman's knee (varicosity). The lengthened, dilated vessel appears as a bluish collection of worm-like tubes below the surface of the skin (at centre). The condition is caused by valve dysfunction between the deep and superficial veins in the leg. Normally, blood will flow one way (from superficial to deep) along the venous system in the leg. However, in patients with varicose veins, leaky valves allow superficial veins to become stretched and distended with blood. Varicose veins affect fifteen percent of the adult population. Treatment is by compression, regular exercise, sclerotherapy or surgery.
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