What's Causing Your Varicose Veins?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
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Varicose veins occur because of six common factors. Which one may be the cause of your varicose veins?

If you’re one of the 23 percent of U.S. adults who have varicose veins, you no doubt wonder what causes the enlarged tangles of blue or purple veins along your legs and feet. The truth is, varicose veins develop due to many factors, some of which we cannot control or manage. On the other hand, other risk factors can be identified and possibly mitigated with preventative steps.

Although it’s difficult to completely prevent varicose veins from forming, you have the ability to delay their development if you recognize your risk factors. Consulting with a vein specialist will help you determine whether you are at risk for varicose veins — and how you can maintain healthy veins throughout your life.

The Most Common Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins occur because of a breakdown in the circulation of blood between the heart and the extremities. Normally, arteries pump blood from the heart to the entire body, while veins return the blood to the heart. The veins are able to do that because small valves in the veins open to let blood rush downward, and then close to push blood upward. This action keeps the blood circulating properly.

Valves in the legs work hardest against gravity because they’re furthest from the heart. As a result, when these valves weaken and blood leaks backwards into the veins, blood accumulates and stretches the vein walls into protruding ropes of varicose veins. When those valves malfunction, it can be attributed to a number of factors. These six are the most common:

  1. Age. As we age, the more likely the valves will lose elasticity and allow blood to pool in the veins. According to one estimate, 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 and 80 have varicose veins.
  2. Heredity. If a close family member has varicose veins, your chances of developing the condition increase, as well. That may be because venous disorders run in families.
  3. Gender. According to the American College of Phlebology, more than half of women will be affected by varicose veins sometime during their lifetimes. Varicose veins are more common among women than men because of hormonal fluctuations due to menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. These hormones relax the vein walls, filling them with more blood. As the blood pools within the veins, varicose veins tend to form.
  4. Pregnancy. As female hormones during pregnancy dilate the vein walls, more blood flows through the body to nourish the growing fetus, as well. The growing fetus also strains veins in the pelvic area, which can lead to varicose veins along the legs. After delivery, varicose veins usually disappear within weeks.
  5. Obesity. Carrying extra pounds puts more pressure on leg veins. As the pressure builds, the vein’s capacity to contain blood declines and leads to the appearance of varicose veins.
  6. Sedentary Lifestyle. Lack of exercise and working at a job where you sit or stand for many hours each day can both force your veins to work harder to circulate blood. Luckily, you can promote good circulation by strengthening the calf muscles through simple workouts such as walking. Strong calf muscles support the vein valves and help pump blood. While working, take short breaks to stretch your legs or flex your ankles to encourage blood flow.

In addition to working out and staying active, you can reduce your risk factors with several at-home remedies. Maintaining a healthy weight with exercise and a diet high in fiber, fruits, and vegetables and low in salt can delay the development of varicose veins.

Other self-care tips to try: Invest in a pair of compression stockings. These tightly woven elastic garments compress the leg veins, thereby helping them circulate blood. Also, switch from high heels to low heels, avoid tight-fitting clothing, and elevate your feet above your chest whenever possible to boost blood flow from the extremities to the heart.

Do You Have Varicose Veins?

Whether your varicose veins are a cosmetic concern or causing you swelling and discomfort, the specialists at the Center for Vein Restoration can examine your veins and discuss treatment options. Although the factors listed here are the most common causes of varicose veins, we’ll review your medical history and health status to determine what may be the reason you have varicose veins — or could be at risk for the condition. We can create a treatment plan that includes both preventative tips and minimally invasive surgeries to permanently rid you of varicose veins. Contact us today for an appointment.

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