What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are those bulging, twisting lines that often protrude above the surface of the skin on the lower leg. In addition to their unsightly appearance, these diseased veins can lead to painful symptoms like night cramping, swelling and even skin changes. What is behind these uncomfortable veins? While the cause of varicose veins is mostly understood, risk factors are varied and can be difficult to control.

Understanding Venous Insufficiency

To understand the cause of varicose veins, we must closely examine the function of the veins in the lower legs. These veins are responsible for pumping blood back up the leg to reach the heart so it can be oxygenated and travel through the body once again. These veins have a particularly tough job, since they must work against gravity and your body’s own weight to move that blood upward. 

Tiny valves inside each of these veins are responsible for ensuring blood moves in a single direction toward the heart. Over time, these valves can become damaged or wear out, preventing them from working as efficiently as they once did. Blood can begin to reflux back into the vein, which causes the vein to swell and a varicose vein to develop. 

Know Your Risk Factors

Faulty valves can occur to nearly anyone, but there are certain factors that can raise your risk for this occurrence:

  • Heredity – If family members have varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them as well.
  • Gender – Women are more likely to have varicose veins than men.
  • Age – By the time you are 60, you are much more likely to have varicose veins
  • Weight – Varicose veins are more prevalent during pregnancy or after a significant amount of weight gain
  • Prolonged Sitting or Standing – Occupations that require long hours on your feet tend to have a greater incidence of varicose veins.

While these risk factors can suggest you are more likely to develop varicose veins, there is no way to know if those veins will appear for sure. The good news is that if those bulging, twisting veins do make an appearance, there are many effective ways to eliminate them with little or no discomfort or downtime.

Treating Varicose Veins

At PCI Vein Center, we offer a wide range of varicose vein treatments that allow us to customize a procedure to the specific needs and desired outcome of the patient. Most treatments involve little discomfort and no recovery time afterward. To learn more about our services, contact PCI Vein Center at (319) 247-3800 to schedule your personal consultation with Dr. David Lawrence.   


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