Question

Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Why do I get varicose and spider veins on my legs?

A Answers (2)

  • The force of gravity, the pressure of body weight, and the task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart make legs the primary location for varicose and spider veins. Compared with other veins in the body, leg veins have the toughest job of carrying blood back to the heart. They endure the most pressure. This pressure can be stronger than the veins' one-way valves.

    This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.

  • AEllen Marmur, MD, Dermatology, answered

    This is a circulation problem stemming from incompetent valves in the vessels. These valves are supposed to prevent the backflow of blood, helping it move back up toward the brain - no easy feat considering the distance from your legs to your head and the downward pull of gravity. When they're working properly, the valves prevent blood from rushing down to the feet (another brilliant engineering facet of the body). People with varicose veins have "floppy valves" that don't open and close effectively, which causes blood to flood these leg vessels. The condition definitely worsens in pregnancy, perhaps because the blood flow doubles at that time.

    This circulatory condition is partially genetic, but it can occur as a result of physical trauma too. I got my spider veins and varicose veins after a bad bicycle accident compressed my leg. In my situation, I think genetics has played a part too, and my varicose veins did get worse during my pregnancies.

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