Many patients who come to Artemis seeking treatment for varicose veins assume that they are to blame for their condition. If only they’d eaten a little differently, they think, or moved around a bit more, maybe they wouldn’t be suffering. While it is true that lifestyle can have some impact on whether certain people develop varicose veins, the reality is that there are many different causes. Most of these causes are not the fault of the patient! Simply being misinformed about this is one thing. As a result, it may prevent someone from seeking treatment because they are embarrassed. Unfortunately, varicose veins are not only an aesthetic issue, but are often accompanied by symptoms in the legs like pain, swelling, aching and fatigue. We hope that this discussion of the causes of varicose veins will help people understand that there is nothing to be ashamed of and encourage them to get treatment.
Varicose veins are symptomatic of a condition called venous insufficiency. Normally, veins are able to fight gravity and return blood to the heart because they have special valves that look like an inverted “V”. As our muscles contract and squeeze the veins, the valves open to allow blood through, and then close to prevent the blood from going backward. However, these valves sometimes malfunction and fail to close properly, which allows blood to flow back down and pool in the veins. This pressure stretches the vein walls and eventually causes the veins to bulge and become visible on the surface of the skin as varicose veins. But, what causes the valves in veins to fail?
Researchers are discovering more ways that varicose veins are hereditary. In a 2018 study published in the journal Circulation, researchers discovered that simply being tall is a risk factor for developing varicose veins. Genes predispose individuals to developing varicose veins in other ways as well. For example, certain hormones can impact the integrity of vein walls, which may explain why a higher percentage of women get varicose veins when compared to men.
Another fairly common cause of varicose veins is pregnancy. As a baby grows, the uterus may impinge on a large vein that moves blood from the feet to the heart. This increase in pressure can stretch the vein walls, which leads to the valves failing and the formation of varicose veins.
We often think of ultra-fit athletes as invincible when it comes to health issues, but many suffer from varicose veins. Sports that repeatedly stress the legs, strain the athlete’s body, involve high impact, or require athletes to remain upright for long periods of time can all lead to venous insufficiency. Some of the same principles apply for non-athletes. Occupations that require a person to stand or sit for long periods of time may be the main factor in whether or not someone develops varicose veins.
Physical trauma can damage the walls or valves of a vein, increasing the chance of developing varicosities. This injury doesn’t have to be caused by an accident: it could result from surgery, or from extreme exertion.
From the previous discussion, it’s clear that there are a number of reasons why someone may develop varicose veins that have nothing to do with a person’s lifestyle. However, it is the case that varicose veins may result when a person has a condition like obesity. While of course we recommend that people try to live a healthy lifestyle, the right diet and exercise is not a guarantee that a person will avoid venous insufficiency.
It’s helpful to understand the causes of varicose veins, but the question is what to do about them if they do appear. Fortunately, modern vein treatments are minimally invasive and essentially painless. One intervention that is easy to implement is wearing compression stockings.
Compression stockings provide additional support to the veins and help keep blood moving in the right direction. While these stockings won’t eliminate varicose veins that have already appeared, they can help slow the progression of venous disease and relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms. You can purchase compression stockings online, but if you come in we can help you find the right fit and style for your specific needs. Read more about compression stockings by clicking here.
It is possible to eliminate varicose veins and accompanying symptoms like leg pain and fatigue. Artemis offers free ultrasound vein screenings so that we can find out what’s really going on beneath the surface. If a patient decides to receive treatment to resolve their venous insufficiency, we can take care of it using a procedure called endovenous laser ablation. This is a gentle procedure that takes place in an outpatient setting, and patients are back on their feet after treatment is complete. (Though, we do ask them to take it easy for a couple of days!)
If you or someone you know has varicose veins, or you’ve been suffering from symptoms like painful, tender and achy legs, give us a call to discuss what you’re experiencing. We can recommend whether or not you should consider coming in for a free vein screening. Our doctor and medical staff are top notch and treat each patient as an individual. We’ve positively impacted many patients’ wellbeing, and pride ourselves on our reputation for excellent care. Fill out our contact form to get on our schedule.