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Varicose Veins

According to the ADAM Health Encyclopedia, “Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted, painful, superficial veins resulting from poorly functioning valves. In normal veins, valves in the vein keep blood moving forward toward the heart. With varicose veins, the valves do not function properly, allowing blood to remain in the vein. Pooling of blood in a vein causes it to enlarge. This process usually occurs in the veins of the legs, although it may occur elsewhere. Varicose veins are common, affecting mostly women.”

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins but are smaller and are located nearer the surface of the skin.

Internet Resources

MedlinePlus: Varicose Veins
Developed at the National Library of Medicine specifically for consumers, this site is a portal for both government-sponsored and privately developed health information for the lay public.

Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
The National Women's Health Information Center (NWHIC) is the most reliable and current information resource on women’s health today. They offer free women’s health information on more than 800 topics through a call center and web site.


Journal Articles

  • “Varicose veins: telltale signs and treatment options.” Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource. 14(11):1-2. Nov. 2010
  • “Vanishing varicose veins.” Johns Hopkins Medical Letter, Health After 50. 20(11):6, 2009 Jan.
  • “Varicose veins. Office surgery and fast recovery for most.” Mayo Clinic Health Letter. 26(11):1-3, 2008 Nov.
  • “Minimally invasive vein surgery for varicose veins.” Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery. 47(1):35-39, Elias SM. 2006.
  • “Does having spider veins increase the risk of blood clots in my legs?” Mayo Clinic Women's Healthsource. 10(4). 2006.

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Health Learning Center  at 312-926-5465 or HLC@nmh.org.

Last UpdateDecember 2, 2011