Varicose veins are enlarged and twisted veins. While varicose veins can develop anywhere, they are most likely to occur in the legs and/or feet. Some people with varicose veins experience no symptoms while others are plagued by considerable pain.
Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the body, while the veins transport blood back to the heart. Doing that requires veins in the lower part of the body to work against gravity. Muscle contractions in the lower legs help pump the blood upward, and the elastic walls of the veins also help the blood return to the heart.
The veins also have valves that close to keep the blood from flowing backwards. Varicose veins develop when this system fails, and that failure can occur for a number of reasons:
As a person gets older, their veins can become less elastic, and that loss can cause the veins to stretch out of shape. Similarly, the valves in the veins can weaken with age, and they start letting blood flow backward and collect in the veins. Those veins then become distended and twisted. Since the veins contain deoxygenated blood, they also appear blue.
Some pregnant women develop varicose veins. Pregnancy causes the amount of blood in a woman’s body to increase substantially. A lot of that blood goes to the uterus to support and nourish the developing fetus. The uterus, unfortunately, puts an increased pressure on the leg veins, which can cause them to become swollen. Hormonal changes during pregnancy may also cause the condition. Fortunately, varicose veins triggered by pregnancy typically improve by themselves within three months after childbirth.
Women are more likely to develop varicose veins than are men. Hormonal changes caused by pre-menstruation, pregnancy or menopause may cause varicose veins. Female hormones are known to make vein walls relax. Taking birth control pills or hormone replacement drugs can also increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
Being overweight increases the chances of developing varicose veins, especially in women. The extra weight puts more pressure on the veins and forces them to work harder to transport blood back to the heart. Extra pressure on the veins leads to extra pressure on the valves, and that can increase their chances of developing a leak.
An occupation that requires someone to sit or stand in one place for a long time can increase the risk of varicose veins. Research indicates that blood does not flow as well if the patient stands or sits for a long time.
Other causes can include congenital abnormalities in the veins, blood clots or a tumor in the pelvic region.
Learn More Today
If you are suffering from varicose veins, you do not have to live with them. Located in Oakmont, the Vein Specialists of Pittsburgh is here to help you every step of the way. We offer various safe and effective treatment options. Contact our office today to schedule your appointment to learn more.