Defi nition There are many defi nitions: perhaps the most useful is that varicose veins are dilated, elongated or tortuous superfi cial veins, irrespective of size.
Prevalence Varicose veins are one of the more commonly presenting conditions in general practice. The incidence is increasing because of an increase in obesity and sedentary lifestyle.1 The overall reported prevalence varies: 25%–30% in women and 10%–20% in men is frequently quoted, although a recent study in Scotland found 32% in women and 40% in men. It is seldom lifethreatening, but can cause much morbidity in younger age groups. Despite the lower prevalence rate, women consult their general practitioner more than men, because of cosmetic reasons. The prevalence rate increases with age, with 80% in people over the age of 60 years. The complication rates are much higher in older people.