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Veins are the second part of our circulatory system after arteries. As you know, our heart is pumping the bright red oxygenated blood toward all organs to ensure proper oxygen supply to the body. After giving oxygen away our blood becomes dark red and needs to go back to the lungs to get oxygen again for the next cycle. That is where the venous system comes in handy. In contrast to the arteries, veins carry blood up and backward to the upper body. They begin at the toes and fingers and increase in size as they go up to accommodate more blood coming back to the lungs. Since we spend most of the day in a vertical position, the blood flow in our veins needs to overcome the force of gravity. Nature has given veins a smart system of one-way valves which allow the blood flow to go gradually up through each level. When we walk, our calf muscles contract and the small portion of venous blood goes up above the knee and the valves close to avoid the blood returning to the toes. This happens at many levels when the valves function properly. However, when the valves fail to close, some of the blood will leak back, causing the vein to expand and with time leading to increased pressure in the venous system. This further results in pooling of large amounts of blood and causing aches, swelling, skin discoloration and eventually ulcers. This can affect veins of any size – when larger veins fail, they are typically called varicose veins. When smaller veins are affected, they are typically called reticular or spider veins.