What causes varicose veins?

Suzanne E. Ozbun, MD
Family Medicine
Varicose veins may occur during pregnancy because of congestion of the veins. Basically, the baby puts pressure on the veins of the body, and in turn the veins can swell up. Usually varicose veins get smaller after delivery for most women. However, for some women they may never go away completely, but they often shrink after the baby has been delivered and pressure isn’t put on veins anymore.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Varicose veins occur when valves preventing backflow of blood returning to the heart become weakened (often because of pregnancy or weight gain), and blood pools in the veins of the legs, causing them to bulge. You can reduce some of the symptoms (like pain and swelling) by elevating your legs to promote blood drainage to the heart and avoiding standing for long periods of time. Wearing compression stockings while standing can stall their development. Various kinds of procedures can also address varicose veins -- either by removing them or by closing them off.

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Audrey Kunin, MD
Varicose veins affect more than half of all women in the US (55%). Causes include increasing age, genetics, pregnancy, obesity, gender (women develop varicose veins far more than men), high blood pressure and standing for long periods of time.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.
The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to the whole body. Arteries carry blood from the heart towards the body parts. Veins carry oxygen-poor blood from the body back to the heart.

The squeezing of leg muscles pumps blood back to the heart from the lower body. Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. These valves prevent the blood from flowing backwards as it moves up the legs. If the one-way valves become weak, blood can leak back into the vein and collect there. This problem is called venous insufficiency. Pooled blood enlarges the vein and it becomes varicose. Spider veins can also be caused by the backup of blood. Hormone changes, inherited factors, and exposure to the sun can also cause spider veins.

This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.
Dr. Pina LoGiudice, LAc, ND
Naturopathic Medicine
Veins are the vessels in our body that carry blood away from tissues and back to the heart and lungs. Varicose veins happen when this natural piping loses its strength and becomes bent and out of shape. Varicose veins usually look like dark purple, worm-like bumps under skin. While genetics can play some role in how severe these can show up for us as we age, we also know that excessive constipation, poor nutrition and being overweight can also play a role.

This content originally appeared on doctoroz.com.
Varicose veins usually appear as swollen, twisted clumps of blue or purple blood vessels near the surface of the skin in the legs or pelvis. They occur when valves that facilitate blood flow between the heart and the legs begin to leak and cause blood to pool in the legs.

Continue Learning about Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Large twisted blue or purplish veins visible at the skins surface are known as varicose veins. Any vein in your body can become varicose but it usually occurs in the legs and feet due to the pressure the lower body endures to keep ...

your body upright. It is caused by the weakening of the valves and veins in your legs. Varicose veins are usually hereditary. We are also more prone to get varicose veins as we age. Symptoms include itching, burning, throbbing or cramping in the legs and around the veins. Self-care measures such as exercising, elevating your legs, and wearing compression stockings are used to ease the pain and prevent varicose veins from getting worse. If these measures dont work, see your doctor to discuss medical treatments that are available to close or remove varicose veins.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.