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Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted. The term commonly refers to the veins on the leg, although varicose veins can occur elsewhere. Varicose veins form when the one-way valves of the leg veins fail to prevent back-flow of blood. Vein walls become stretched and the valve is no longer able to close properly. As a result, there is pooling of blood in the leg veins near to the skin, and they become visible as bulging blue or purple veins.