What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins result from improper venous function, leading to blood pooling in the veins. In general, varicose veins can be caused by valve malformations, pregnancy, and thrombophlebitis, which is vein swelling due to a blood clot. Extended periods of time standing on your feet without motion can also lead to varicose veins. Varicose veins that are due to valve defects which are present from birth or have no known cause are called primary varicose veins, while those that develop because of another condition are considered secondary varicose veins.

What are the risk factors for varicose veins?

A number of factors increase the risk of developing varicose veins. Not all people with risk factors will get varicose veins. Risk factors for varicose veins include:

  • Age older than 50 years
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Family history of weak venous valves or varicose veins
  • Female gender 
  • Hormone changes (e.g., menopause)
  • Medical history of weak veins or phlebitis
  • Obesity
  • Occupations that require prolonged standing
  • Pregnancy

Reducing your risk of varicose veins

Varicose veins are caused by pooling of blood in the veins. You can prevent blood from accumulating in your legs by:

  • Avoiding prolonged periods of standing
  • Eating a healthy, low-salt diet
  • Engaging in regular physical activity
  • Sleeping with your feet elevated


What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen with blood, leading to a tangled appearance and pain. The swelling in varicose veins arises from improper venous function, leading to inappropriate blood collection. Generally, varicose veins occur in the legs, but they can occur in other regions of the body as well.

Varicose veins arise from blood pooling, usually in the legs. Blo... Read more about varicose veinsintroduction


What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

Symptoms of varicose veins include tangled, painful, or raised veins in the legs, buttocks, or other regions of the body. In mild cases, varicose veins can be treated at home. In more severe cases, swelling of the legs, excessive pain, or ulcers of the legs or ankles may occur, and you should obtain prompt medical treatment.

Common symptoms of varicose veins

You may exp... Read more about varicose veinssymptoms


How are varicose veins treated?

For most cases of varicose veins, noninvasive treatment can be performed to improve the appearance and feeling of the legs. Typical treatments include keeping your legs elevated when sleeping and wearing support hose. If you are experiencing serious leg discomfort from varicose veins, nonsurgical procedures such as scleropathy, radiofrequency treatment, and laser treatment can be performed. For... Read more about varicose veinstreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 30, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Heart, Blood and Circulation