Varices are localized blood vessels that become dilated (or swollen), then develop into persistent, soft, blister-like lesions. Their color may range from blue to gray to purple, depending on the depth of the lesion and the condition of the blood within it. Newly-developed varices contain fresher blood and tend to be more gray or purple, as do deeper lesions.

Varices may be found anywhere, but are most common on the sides and underside of the tongue or the floor of the mouth. They may also occur on the lips, at the corner of the mouth, and on the inside of the cheek. They range in size from two millimeters to one centimeter, and can become firm and painful if the blood within them clots or calcifies (this usually only occurs in long-standing lesions). Varices are most common in those over 40 years of age. The source of these lesions is the enlargement of a vein, but what causes the enlargement is not known. Some may come from trauma, such as accidentally biting the tongue, cheek or lips. Others may result from the blood within a vessel putting pressure on weakened vessel walls, causing them to bulge; this is similar to what occurs when there's a weak spot on the inner tube of a tire.

* We will surgically drain varices to prevent repeated injury to the area and possible hemorrhage.

* A suture (stitch) must be placed to close the wound and aid in healing.

* Laser treatment is another, relatively new tool available to us in the treatment of oral varices.