While the bumps and bulges of varicose veins may be a cosmetic concern, they can also cause uncomfortable symptoms. You might notice aches, pains, and a general “heaviness” near the varicose vein. And it’s not just your legs that are affected! Varicose veins can also develop in the scrotum and near the anus (also known as hemorrhoids).
Thankfully, the team of providers at Vein Institute, with convenient locations in Shelton, Westport, Newtown, Avon, and Fairfield, Connecticut, is skilled at treating varicose veins, regardless of where they pop up on your body. Whether you opt for radiofrequency ablation, endovenous laser treatment, or ambulatory phlebectomy, we can help you get the relief you need.
In the meantime, you might be wondering what caused your varicose veins in the first place, and how you can prevent them in the future. In this article, we’ll explore the nature and causes of this common vein condition.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins develop when the valves inside your venous blood vessels weaken. This causes blood to back up and pool inside the vein. Normally, blood returning to your heart flows up against gravity, and the valves are one-way, which keeps the blood flowing in one direction — back to your heart.
However, if the one-way valves become weak, some blood can flow backward. When blood flows backward, it pools up, and your vein stretches out. That’s what causes the tell-tell bumps, bulges, and twisted lines associated with varicose veins.
4 causes of varicose veins
Now that you know what it means to have a varicose vein, what causes them to develop in the first place? Below are four common causes of varicose veins:
About 20% of adults will experience some type of varicose veins, but your risk of developing them increases with age. As you age, the wear-and-tear on your valves causes them to weaken, disrupting blood flow.
Obesity can increase your risk of developing many different types of diseases. Being overweight puts a lot of added pressure on your body, including your veins, and especially those in your legs. Not only does obesity impact your veins, but if you’re overweight, you’re more likely to experience more prominent symptoms, according to a 2017 study.
Many women develop varicose veins during pregnancy. According to research published by the Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG), the combination of weight gain and an increase in hormone levels contributes to the development of varicose veins. Because family history can also increase your risk of developing varicose veins, pregnant women with a family history of varicose veins are at an even higher risk.
In general, women who undergo hormonal shifts (such as pregnancy or menopause) see varicose veins develop because hormones can relax your vein walls.
4. Lifestyle factors
Standing or sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause varicose veins. To keep your veins as healthy as possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Set your timer to get up and stand or walk around at least once per hour
- Sit down for five minutes if you’ve been standing too long
- Avoid crossing your legs while you sit
- Prop your feet up at night when relaxing or watching TV
In general, leading an active life is good for your veins. Whether you walk around the block, jog, or ride a stationary bike, try to fit as many physical activities into your day as possible.
If you spot the signs of varicose veins...
If you have varicose veins, don’t delay treatment, even if they don’t bother you yet. Untreated varicose veins can lead to complications such as ulcers. We know you can’t prevent every case of varicose veins, but our skilled providers can get you the relief and ongoing support you need to stay healthy.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call the location of your choice or book online.