Blood travels in vessels called arteries and veins. An artery is a vessel that carries blood away from the heart to distribute oxygen and nutrients to the cells of the body. Veins are vessels that carry blood back to the heart after the cells have received the oxygen and nutrients. Veins are thin-walled structures with tiny valves lining the inside of the vessel. A varicose vein is an abnormal dilation of these vessels that carry blood back to the heart. Although veins are located throughout the body, varicose veins are most commonly seen in the legs.
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