Vein Disorders
VEIN Atlanta
Louis G. Prevosti, MD, FACS Louis G. Prevosti, MD, FACS

Causes of Varicose Veins

You may be one of the millions of Americans that suffer from varicose veins and their little sibling, spider veins. Maybe you watch your diet, try to exercise when you can, take vitamins, but yet those unsightly veins slowly keep getting worse. 

Varicose veins, spider veins, and blue reticular veins can cause you to suffer physically, with aching, tired, heavy legs. You may also experience burning or itching. Or maybe your suffering is psychological, due to self-consciousness or embarrassment and the burden of keeping your legs covered in public. Why did this happen to you? Well, there is nothing you did, or didn’t do to cause them. Chances are you had one or more risk factors.

Over half of all women have spider veins and 90% of all women have some form of visible venous disease, as do 2/3 of all men. Did your parents or grandparents have varicose veins? Like many other medical conditions, hereditary predisposition is a major risk factor for developing abnormal veins. A family history of vein problems gives women a fivefold increased chance of developing varicose veins and fourfold increase for men.

Female gender, as well as multiple pregnancies is a risk factor for venous disease. The female hormone progesterone causes veins to dilate, and when a vein remains dilated for long periods of time, the valve leaflets pull apart and reflux occurs. Progesterone levels rise and fall with your menstrual cycle, and remain elevated for 9 months during pregnancy. This is the reason why many women experience varicose veins for the first time during pregnancy. Multiple pregnancies have an additive effect on causing permanent vein reflux, so it is a common story to hear that a woman’s veins get worse after each pregnancy.

Long periods of standing, usually related to work or parenting, also puts you at risk for venous problems. Vocations that require standing most of the day, such as teachers, healthcare workers, the service industry, the travel industry, and childcare are commonly associated with symptomatic venous disease. That’s because when we are upright, gravity is constantly trying to push blood back down our legs, putting stress on the valves.

Visible veins can start at a surprisingly early age. In one study of women 18-20 years old, 12% had spider veins, and 35% had reticular veins. Reticular veins are the blue veins that are visible under the skin and are commonly found near spider veins. As we age, like other areas of our body, the valves can wear out, and the constant effects of gravity take its toll. 45% of women over 40 have venous reflux disease, and the percent increases to 70% at the age of 60.

Despite the cruel set of circumstances, all veins can be treated to a high degree. If you want to get rid of those old companions, and look and feel better, visit our office and we can create an individualized treatment plan for you.

VEIN Atlanta
1100 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 165
Atlanta, GA 30342
(404) 446-2800