Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are caused by the failure of the internal valves to prevent reverse blood flow back into the vein.  In healthy veins, the muscles surrounding the vein support the vein in returning blood to the heart. This process requires the veins to work against gravity. The veins contain internal valves that prevent against reverse blood flow. For reasons that are not fully understood these internal valves can become defective or damaged; resulting in a condition called venous reflux, in which blood flows back into the vein. Swelling results as the vein becomes engorged with excess blood. Veins suffering from venous reflux become enlarged and protrude from the skin with a bulgy appearance. Although there is not one definitive cause, there are several lifestyle factors that are linked to the development of varicose veins.

  1. Genetics: People who have a family history of varicose veins are more likely to develop them.

  2. Gender: Varicose veins are more common in women than men.

  3. Age: The risk of developing varicose veins increases with age, as vein walls become less elastic and more prone to failure.

  4. Weight: Excess weight and obesity put an added strain on the circulatory system and increase the chances that varicose veins will form.

  5. Pregnancy: The added weight and strain of pregnancy on the circulatory system raises the chance of veins becoming varicose.

  6. Injury: Certain injuries can cause damage to veins and make the development of varicose veins more likely.

  7. Lifestyles: Varicose veins are more commonly found in individuals who have restricted mobility or live very inactive lives. Working or participating in professions and activities that require sitting or standing for long periods of time can also increase the risk of varicose veins.