Overview

Veins have one-way valves that prevent blood from backing up into the legs when we stand or sit. When the valves become weak, the blood may pool and increase pressure in the leg veins. This may contribute to varicose veins and cause fatigue, heaviness, aching, burning, throbbing, itching, cramping, swelling, and restlessness of the legs. Severe varicose veins can compromise the skin's health, leading to eczema, inflammation, or even lower leg ulcers.

The main factor for having varicose veins is heredity. Other causes may include aging, prolonged standing, obesity, leg injury, or prior deep or superficial vein thrombosis. Women are more likely than men to suffer from varicose and spider veins and have a 50 percent chance of developing them in their lifetime. Varicose veins may result from increased hormone levels, blood volume, and pressure from the enlarged uterus during pregnancy. While these generally improve after delivery, abnormal veins worsen with each successive pregnancy.


Diagnosis, Treatment, and Therapies

To learn about varicose vein diagnosis, treatment, and therapies, please visit the Vein Center, part of the larger Heart & Vascular Center.