Understanding the Link Between Varicose Veins and Venous Reflux

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Blog Understanding Link Between Varicose Veinsand Venous Reflux

Medically reviewed by Mohamed T. Hassan, MD, DABVLM, RPVI, on December 8, 2023

The author of this blog, Dr. Mohamed T. Hassan, is an experienced vein doctor who is certified by the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine and the American Board of Internal Medicine. He has devoted his career to the accurate diagnosis and safe, effective outpatient treatment of venous issues. He is the lead vein physician at Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) clinics in Hoover, Alabama, and Trussville, Alabama.

Dr. Hassan completed his fellowship at Center for Vein Restoration's Venous and Lymphatic Medicine program, dedicated to developing expertise in all methods for treating venous insufficiency, including laser ablation, radiofrequency endovenous ablation, non-thermal technologies such as Clarivein, Venaseal, Varithena, ambulatory micro-stab phlebectomy, ultrasound-guided foam, and cosmetic sclerotherapy.

Dr. Hassan is a distinguished member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society and the American College of Physicians.

One common underlying factor in the development of varicose veins is venous reflux, which occurs when the valves in the veins become weakened or damaged, leading to a disruption in the normal flow of blood and increased pressure in the veins. This can cause the veins to become enlarged and twisted, resulting in varicose veins. Understanding the link between varicose veins and venous reflux is crucial for effective management and prevention of this condition.

What are Varicose Veins?

First things first, let's talk about varicose veins. Varicose veins are those twisty, bulging veins that often show up on our legs. They can be more than just a cosmetic concern; they might signal an underlying issue with our blood circulation.

Venous Reflux: The Culprit Behind Varicose Veins

Venous reflux is a common underlying factor in the development of varicose veins. To understand why this happens, let's break down the process step-by-step.

1. Normal Blood Flow: In our circulatory system, blood is pumped through arteries from the heart to the rest of the body. It then returns to the heart through veins. Veins have one-way valves that ensure blood flows in the correct direction—toward the heart.

2. Enter Venous Reflux: Venous reflux occurs when these valves become weakened or damaged, allowing blood to flow backward or pool in the veins. This is often due to increased pressure in the veins, which can be caused by factors such as prolonged standing, sitting, or genetic predisposition.

3. Increased Pressure in Veins: When venous reflux happens, the normal flow of blood is disrupted, and the pressure in the veins increases. This increased pressure can lead to the veins becoming enlarged and twisted.

4. Varicose Vein Formation: The increased pressure and pooling of blood cause the veins to lose their elasticity and shape. Over time, the weakened vein walls can result in the development of varicose veins. These are enlarged, twisted veins often visible beneath the skin's surface, typically in the legs.

5. Symptoms and Complications: Varicose veins can cause symptoms such as aching, heaviness, and discomfort in the legs. In addition to being a cosmetic concern, they may lead to more severe complications such as skin changes, ulcers, and, in advanced cases, deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Risk Factors and Prevention

Certain factors can increase the risk of venous reflux and, consequently, varicose veins. These include age, genetics, and lifestyle factors like prolonged sitting or standing. While we can't change our genes or stop the clock, there are things we can do to promote healthy veins.

Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or standing can all contribute to better vein health. Elevating your legs and wearing compression stockings may also provide some relief.

About Center for Vein Restoration

Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) is nationally recognized as the clinical leader in treating chronic venous insufficiency. CVR is America's largest physician-led vein center, with 110+ centers (and growing!). 70+ active physicians in 22 states conduct over 200,000 patient interactions annually, earning CVR a 98 percent patient satisfaction rating.

CVR accepts many insurances, including Aetna, Amerigroup, Anthem, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, Cigna, MultiPlan, Medicaid, Medicare, and more.

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Hassan or any other CVR vein physician, call 240-965-3915 to speak to a Patient Services Representative or schedule your consultation online at a CVR near you today.

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