What Are the Main Causes of Varicose Veins?

March 21, 2018 • Desert Vein Institute • Varicose Veins

For some patients, varicose veins are primarily a cosmetic issue.  For others, this disorder causes discomfort that interrupts a normal daily routine.  Often these unsightly blood vessels are a surprise.  Understanding what causes them helps patients better understand the alternatives available for Las Vegas vein treatment.

What Exactly is a Varicose Vein?

A varicose vein is a bulging blood vessel that is typically blue or purple, often with a ropelike appearance, according to Stony Brook Medicine.  These vessels typically develop in the legs, particularly on the back of the limb, on the calf, or on the inside of a thigh.  Sometimes they appear to protrude from underneath the skin and resemble clusters of grapes.

More than 80 million people in the United States have a vein health problem.  Approximately 55 percent are women and 45 percent, men.  Many suffer from the symptoms of a varicose vein disorder, among them:

  • Pain, aching, or cramping
  • A sensation of fatigue or heaviness
  • A tingling or burning feeling
  • Swelling
  • Throbbing
  • Tender areas around affected vessels

Long-standing vein disease can cause chronic venous insufficiency.  This can result in damage to the skin that could prove irreversible.

Causes and Risk Factors

The job of a vein is to transport blood from various parts of the body back to the heart for recirculation.  This means that vessels carrying blood upward from the extremities have to fight against the effects of gravity.

Small valves in veins open and close to regulate blood flow.  When these valves are damaged, they cannot close properly.  This allows blood to fall backward and pool, eventually stretching the blood vessel and potentially causing a varicose vein.

The Mayo Clinic notes that the primary causes of the development of a varicose vein and risk factors that can affect vein health include:

  • Age causes vein stretching and weak valves.
  • Pregnancy can result in enlarged leg veins.
  • Hormonal changes associated with being female, taking birth control pills, or hormone replacement therapy sometimes relax the walls of veins.
  • A family history often predicts varicose vessels.
  • Extended periods of sitting or standing interfere with proper blood flow.
  • Obesity adds pressure to veins.

Treatment Alternatives

A number of at-home measures such as elevating the legs periodically, avoiding tight clothing, shedding excess pounds, and increasing physical exercise are helpful for reducing the discomfort associated with this vein health problem.  For many patients, vein specialists recommend conservative measures such as compression stockings.

The days when ligation and stripping was the typical varicose vein treatment are gone.  Surgery is now uncommon.  Laser vein treatment is an option recommended for many patients.  A laser vein procedure uses light energy to close a vein.  Other common minimally invasive outpatient procedures vein doctors offer include VenaSeal™, ClosureFast™, phlebectomy, sclerotherapy for spider veins and small varicose vessels, or a combination of these options. 


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