What increases my risk of having varicose veins?

Dr. John T. Morris, DO
Vascular Surgeon

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)
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.

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.
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Dr. John C. Lipman, MD
Vascular & Interventional Radiologist

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.

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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.