“Hereditary factor is the number one cause of varicose veins and telangiectasias.”

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Some predispositions include age, foot occupations, and trauma or leg injuries.

Hereditary factor is the number one cause of varicose veins and telangiectasias. Women are much more predisposed than men. Fifty-five percent of American women will be affected in the course of their lives. Hormonal factors related to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and the use of contraceptives favor the disease. It is very common for varicose veins to get worse with pregnancy.

Varicose veins occur when veins do not properly carry blood from the feet and legs to the heart. All veins have a series of valves that open to allow blood to flow to the heart, and close to prevent backward flow (known as “reflux”) of new blood to the feet. When the valves are not working properly, blood returns through the valves and flows down the leg in an abnormal direction. The blood fills excessively and distends the superficial veins under the skin, causing the bulge seen in varicose veins.

The walls and valves of the veins are thin and elastic, and may stretch due to a variety of conditions, such as pregnancy, heredity, and age. When varicose veins get worse, this is known as chronic venous insufficiency. Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency consist of pain, fatigue, and a feeling of heaviness in the legs, all of which worsen as the day progresses. If chronic venous insufficiency is not treated, it can cause ulcers that can be very difficult to treat.