Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged veins, often seen in the legs and feet, which appear lumpy, twisted and are blue or dark purple in colour. Varicose veins result from problems with the drainage of blood where values in our veins don’t close properly, causing blood to flow back into the legs and pools in the veins which then become distended due to increased pressure. These veins aren’t only visible, but also painful as symptoms include tired, heavy, throbbing legs and swollen feet and ankles. The skin around the affected vein may be dry and itchy and muscle cramp is common, particularly at night. Up to 40% of women and 20% of men suffer from symptoms of varicose veins, making the disease of the veins one of the most prevalent conditions today. Varicose veins are caused by weak vein walls and valves. Women are more likely to have varicose veins, particularly as being pregnant leads to an increased risk. Old age, being overweight and long periods of standing also increase your risk of developing varicose veins.