What increases my risk of having varicose veins?

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Adam M. Levine, DO
Interventional Cardiology
Varicose veins can run in families; however, there are many things that increase your risk. Smoking, obesity and lack of exercise will increase your risk, as can long periods of standing. Most women do see worsening varicose veins after multiple pregnancies. A leg injury or blood clot in the leg in the past will also increase your risk for developing varicose veins.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
Ibrahim Moussa, DO
Interventional Cardiology
Risk of developing varicose veins is associated with increased age, family history of venous disease, female gender, pregnancy and obesity. Others at increased risk of having varicose veins include those with occupations requiring prolonged standing, such as salespeople, hair stylists, teachers, nurses, ancillary medical personnel and construction workers.
 
Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
John Morris, DO
Vascular Surgery
A number of factors increase your risk of having varicose veins and spider veins. These include:
  • heredity
  • occupations that involve a lot of standing, such as nurses, teachers and factory workers
  • obesity
  • hormonal influences of pregnancy, puberty and menopause
  • the use of birth control pills
  • postmenopausal hormonal replacement
  • a history of blood clots
Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider.
William D. Knopf, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Many factors increase a person's chances of developing varicose or spider veins. These include:
  • Increasing Age
  • Having family members with vein problems or being born with weak vein valves
  • Hormonal changes. These occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Taking birth control pills and other medicines containing estrogen and progesterone also increase the risk of varicose or spider veins
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy there is a huge increase in the amount of blood in the body. This can cause veins to enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins. Varicose veins usually improve within 3 months after delivery. A growing number of abnormal veins usually appear with each additional pregnancy
  • Obesity, leg injury, prolonged standing and other things that weaken vein valves
  • Sun exposure, which can cause spider veins on the cheeks or nose of a fair-skinned person
This answer from the National Women's Health Information Center has been reviewed and/or edited by Dr. William D. Knopf.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Women and older people between 30 and 70 years of age are more likely than others to develop varicose veins. Factors like genetics, weight and having a job that requires you to stand for long periods can also put you at higher risk.
Varicose veins occur more frequently in women than in men. People who are overweight, who spend much of their day standing, and women who are pregnant are more likely to develop varicose veins. Age and heredity are also risk factors for developing varicose veins.
Piedmont Heart Institute
Administration
Many factors increase a person's chances of developing varicose or spider veins. These include:
  • Increasing Age Having family members with vein problems or being born with weak vein valves
  • Hormonal changes. These occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Taking birth control pills and other medicines containing estrogen and progesterone also increase the risk of varicose or spider veins
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy there is a huge increase in the amount of blood in the body. This can cause veins to enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins. Varicose veins usually improve within 3 months after delivery. A growing number of abnormal veins usually appear with each additional pregnancy
  • Obesity, leg injury, prolonged standing and other things that weaken vein valves
  • Sun exposure, which can cause spider veins on the cheeks or nose of a fair-skinned person
This answer is based on source information from The National Women's Health Information Center.
UCLA Health
Administration
Nearly one in every two adults 50 years or older develops varicose veins. The condition is most common among women and older adults, but obesity, standing on the job, personal or family history of venous disease, and hormonal changes before and after pregnancy increase the risk for developing varicose veins.
If you have a predisposition toward developing varicose veins, certain factors greatly increase your risk. In this video, vein specialist Luis Navarro, MD, explains the circumstances that can bring this problem on.
The following are risk factors for varicose veins:
  1. Female sex: Women are several times more likely to suffer with varicose veins. Female hormones relax vein walls which can lead to varicose veins. Hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause may increase a woman's risk. Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy may also increase her risk.
  2. Age: Vein valves weaken with age.
  3. Family history: Having family members with varicose veins increases your risk.
  4. Obesity: Added weight places an additional burden on veins which can lead to valve failure. This additional refluxing blood downstream causes the vein to dilate and become varicose.
  5. Occupational: Jobs which require a person to be on their feet a lot place additional pressure on the veins of the legs to work harder to pump the venous blood back to the heart.

Varicose veins occur in both men and women, but are more common in women for various reasons including pregnancy and hormonal changes. Other risk factors include a family history of varicose veins, standing for long periods of time and being overweight. This is a progressive condition and varicosities can get worse as one gets older.

There are several risk factors that increase your chance of developing varicose veins. Obviously, being a woman increases your chance since pregnancy and hormones are one of the main causes of varicose veins. Several other risk factors are family history of varicose veins, standing for a long time on a regular basis, and being overweight. In addition, age is a major risk factor and cause of varicose veins.

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.
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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.