Are there risk factors associated with varicose veins?

Varicose veins develop when excess blood pressure damages the veins. This restricts blood flow and causes blood to collect in the veins, making them swell, bulge, and protrude from the skin. Extended periods of sitting or standing, age, injury, and obesity can also cause the veins to weaken or become damaged.

These veins can be sore, itchy, and uncomfortable, and they can also cause heaviness or achiness in the legs. They may also appear gnarled and twisted beneath the surface of the skin. Find relief from this discomfort and erase the appearance of these veins at the Leg & Vein Center!

Are there risk factors associated with varicose veins?

For many patients, varicose veins may seem like a simple surface-level imperfection. However, varicose veins may be a sign of other underlying health concerns.

While uncommon, varicose veins located deeper in the body may be more likely to develop clots. This is a condition called Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) that requires immediate medical attention. Should a blood clot travel through the veins and into the longs, this can cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism

There are a number of risk factors which can lead to the development of varicose veins.  While not all of these are controllable, some can be directly influenced by the patient.  In many cases, varicose veins are the result of a combination of the following:

  • Age - The risk of developing varicose veins increases with age, as time, wear and tear begin to weaken valves.
  • Sex - Women are more likely than men to develop varicose veins.  This is due in large part to female hormones which can cause vein walls to relax.
  • Pregnancy - In addition to hormonal changes, pregnancy also produces increased blood volume, which can enlarge veins.
  • Obesity - Carrying excess weight can increase pressure with the legs and damages veins.
  • Lifestyle - The more we move, the more efficient the body becomes and transporting blood.  Living a largely sedentary lifestyle does just the opposite and makes it more difficult for veins to do their job properly.

If you experience pain, redness, or swelling in the leg, or if you are having trouble breathing, chest pain, a fast heartbeat, or fainting, contact a healthcare provider or emergency services as soon as possible.

What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins may produce no bothersome symptoms at all.  However, in cases which do become symptomatic, the following are among the most commonly observed side effects:

  • Discoloration - Veins may appear blue or purplish in color.  The skin surrounding varicose veins may also become discolored.
  • Protrusion - As veins become enlarged, they may protrude from skin, with a cord or rope-like appearance.
  • Pain - Legs may ache, cramp, burn, throb or feel heavy.  These symptoms may be worse after prolonged periods of sitting.
  • Itching - Itching may occur in areas around one or more of the affected veins. 

How can Varicose Veins be Prevented?

While certain risk factors for varicose veins are beyond a patient's control, there are steps that can be taken to minimize veins and their impact on the body.  These include:

  • Physical Activity - In order to alleviate pressure in the veins and encourage blood flow, it's important to take regular breaks from sitting by getting up to move and by elevating the legs for 15 minute intervals at least three times per day.  Exercise programs such as walking and yoga are also useful to incorporate.
  • Compression Stockings - Damaged veins have difficulty maintaining their proper position.  This can lead to the pooling of blood, pain and swelling often associated with varicose veins.  Compression stockings can help combat this by aiding in vein placement.
  • Diet & Lifestyle - Eating a healthy diet of proteins, complex carbohydrates, healthy fats, and fiber can help control weight.  Likewise, patients should limit sodium and focus on drinking healthy amounts of water each day.

Diagnosis & Treatment

There are many ways that the experts at the Cardiovascular Institute of the South Leg & Vein Center can diagnose your condition. By assisting your symptoms, performing a physical examination, and running diagnostic testing, our specialists can help identify signs of venous disease.

Treatment for venous disease includes:

  • Radiofrequency ablation, a minimally-invasive procedure that uses radio frequency to heat and close off the vein
  • Endovenous laser therapy that uses a laser fiber to heat the vein wall and close off the vein
  • Sclerotherapy using injectable solutions to close off the vein and shrink the appearance of spider veins and varicose veins
  • Phlebectomy, a procedure in which small punctures or incisions are made in the skin to remove varicose veins.
  • VenaSeal and Varithena

Following diagnosis, our experts can help you learn lifestyle habits to prevent venous disease and determine the best treatment for your needs.

Seek an Expert Opinion from the Experts in Vein Health

Varicose veins, though primarily harmless, can share the same symptoms as other medical conditions. Consult with a vein specialist from the Leg & Vein Center for a professional diagnosis!