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      Varicose veins not preventable, but treatable, doctors say

      They're not a pretty sight, but nearly 27 million Americans, most of them women, suffer from varicose veins.

      "As an upright creature, gravity pushes the blood back down toward our feet. The valves that would normally prevent blood moving backward through the veins fail, pressure builds up, veins dilate and then you see those ropy, blue veins on people's legs," said M.D. Michael Ouimette, at Marquette General Hospital.

      On Facebook, Heidi Lassila wrote, "I don't have them myself, but they run in the family."

      If that's the case, you could see them run down your legs, doctors said. Ninety percent of cases are caused by genetics, and pregnancy can elevate it.

      "Pregnancy puts a lot of pressure on the structures in the abdomen which increases the pressure, and that causes the valves to fail faster," Ouimette said.

      For most, the bulging addition is a simple case of cosmetics; for others it can lead to more serious health problems like ulcers and extensive bleading if veins rupture before they're treated. And because you may be born with it, you don't have to live with it, doctors said.

      At Marquette General Hospital in Marquette, doctors offer a procedure that eliminates the bad vein.

      "We go in with a laser fiber and we actually close that vein right off that's causing all the varicose veins, and then any bulging veins that you have, we actually will take those out with little tiny incisions and a little hook and we pull them out," said Kerry Klein, an LPN.

      Varicose veins should not be confused with spider veins. Spider veins are red and usually don't pose any health problems. They're also treatable, but many insurance companies do not cover the expenses.