1.   Chronic Venous Insufficiency Causes Varicose Veins

The number one cause of varicose veins is a condition called Chronic Venous Insufficiency. It involves valves that don’t close tightly inside the vein. Since leg veins must pump blood from the feet all the way up to the heart, they rely on valves to close once blood passes through them, to keep blood flowing in the right direction. When valves fail, blood flows in reverse, which increases pressure in the vein.

That pressure causes the vein to swell, stretch, and contort into a varicose vein. Chronic Venous Insufficiency is a common disease, and it’s also a source of spider veins in the legs. But many people don’t know they have it. Book an appointment with our Harvard-trained vein doctors in New Jersey to learn whether you do. Chronic Venous Insufficiency is quick and painless to treat with our minimally invasive vein treatments.

What are varicose veins, and what causes them? These unpleasant blood vessels stem from excess pressure in the vein. Here are nine risk factors for developing them.


2.   Family Members with Varicose Veins Increases Your Risk

If you have family members with varicose veins, you’re more likely to develop them, especially if both of your parents have them. If you want to take preventative measures, see a vein doctor before varicose veins appear. Our vein specialists can use ultrasound tests, including vein mapping, to identify problems in deeper veins. The devices bounce sound waves off blood vessels to determine where there might be a faulty valve or accumulation of blood. Doctors can treat existing malfunctions with ultrasound-guided procedures to prevent more damaged veins from forming.

3.   Fluctuations in Female Hormones Can Cause Varicose Veins

Female hormones are involved in varicose vein pathophysiology. Especially as women approach menopause, there’s an increase in sex hormone receptors in the vein walls. In addition, hormone changes can affect blood pressure, which can stretch the vein walls, making it harder for valves to close. If you’re concerned about existing or possible varicose veins during perimenopause, schedule a consultation with our caring doctors. We’re experts at restoring both vascular health and beautiful skin with healthy veins.

4.   Pregnancy Contributes to Varicose Veins

Pregnancy contributes to varicose veins in several ways. The first is the female hormone fluctuation mentioned above. Secondly, pregnancy doubles the blood volume in veins to supply the fetus. This causes the veins to stretch, which can result in valve failure and backward blood flow. In addition, as the uterus expands, it can place additional pressure on the pelvic veins.

The good news is that most veins will shrink back to a normal size after pregnancy. However, some women will sustain varicose veins that don’t resolve on their own. Visit our vein specialists if you’re concerned about pregnancy-related varicose veins. In most cases, it’s safest to treat them after delivery. But we can select and schedule the treatment and provide tips to prevent more varicose veins and worsening symptoms.

5.   Birth Control and Hormone Replacement Therapy Contribute

Birth control and hormone supplementation do not directly cause varicose veins. But they contribute to issues that might cause them. Increases in estrogen and progesterone can slow blood flow. In some cases, this can lead to a blood clot. A clot can elevate pressure and cause a varicose vein. If you have a personal or family history of blood clots, especially deep vein thrombosis, ask your vein specialist whether birth control or hormone replacement is safe for you.

If you use these products, keep regular appointments with your vein doctor to ensure your venous health. If you notice a sudden area of redness, warmth, and swelling, call your doctor right away. If you have chest pain or shortness of breath, head to the emergency room. These symptoms might indicate that you have a blood clot that broke loose and traveled to the lung and blocked a vital artery. That’s called a pulmonary embolism, and it can be fatal.

6.   Veins Weaken with Age, So Older Adults Are at Risk

As we age, vein walls become weaker. That makes it harder for valves to create tight seals. So, everyone is more at risk of varicose veins after age 50. What can you do to combat that? Maintaining a healthy weight and active lifestyle are two of the best defenses. These tactics reduce pressure on your veins. In addition, having a qualified vein doctor on your team can prevent avoidable vein damage. If the doctor spots blood clots, faulty valves, or Chronic Venous Insufficiency, they can address those before they produce varicose veins. They can also discuss preventative measures like compression stockings. Don’t try compression without consulting a vein doctor as it isn’t safe for everyone.

7.   Obesity Causes Increased Pressure in the Veins

Gaining weight puts pressure on your veins. If you’re able to lose weight, that might help prevent varicose veins and reduce the symptoms and severity of existing ones. Weight loss can be a gradual process. But you don’t have to wait until you’ve lost weight to treat your veins. Many people don’t realize that symptoms like cramping, restlessness, heaviness, swelling, and itching in the legs can result from varicose veins. If you’re struggling with Restless Legs Syndrome, or you’ve developed venous ulcerations or venous stasis dermatitis, see a vein doctor for relief.

8.   Lack of Exercise Increases Your Risk

Arteries pump blood away from the heart with the help of the powerful heart muscle. Veins don’t get that boost when they return blood back to the heart. Instead, they rely on muscle contractions in the legs to help them pump blood upward. If you don’t exercise, you have fewer leg muscle contractions throughout the day. That makes it more likely that blood will pool in your veins and cause varicosities. You don’t have to run a marathon or be a powerlifter. Any amount of exercise will help your veins do their job. A daily walk, if you’re able, is a great place to start. If you’re unable to walk but can move your legs, try seated calf raises or ankle circles. If you can’t move your legs, a physical therapist or loved one can help with exercises for circulation.

9.   Sitting or Standing for Long Periods Is a Risk Factor

Anyone whose job requires long periods of sitting or standing is at risk of developing varicose veins, including people who exercise. Many people know that sitting for hours isn’t great for circulation. But standing for hours isn’t ideal either. That puts all of your body weight above your leg veins, which makes it harder for them to work against gravity. If you have a stationary job, change positions, stretch, and flex your muscles whenever possible. If you have a seated job, take a brief walk during your break. If you have a standing job, prop your feet up, if possible, during lunch. At night, elevate your legs while resting. Positioning them above heart level yields the best results. If you were wondering, “What are varicose veins, and what causes them,” we hope this article helped. Contact us with any questions. Our New Jersey vein doctors love explaining venous health.