Common Causes of Varicose Veins

Common Causes of Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are common among both women and men, especially as you get older. In fact, they’re so common, it’s easy to ignore them as just another “side effect” of getting older.

The problem is, varicose veins can be a sign of a serious underlying medical problem. And even when the cause is relatively benign, they can still trigger uncomfortable symptoms like pain, swelling, and discoloration.

Amjad Safvi, MD, and the team at Advanced Vein Treatment and Cosmetic Center help patients understand the causes of varicose veins, along with their unique risk factors, so they can get important treatment and preventive care to stay healthy.

The ABCs of varicose veins

In a healthy circulatory system, your arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from the lungs and heart to the rest of your body, while your veins carry it back. The heart plays a major role in keeping blood flowing. But once the blood reaches your extremities, it needs some help pumping it back to your heart. 

Your veins are equipped with tiny valves that open and close rapidly. These tiny movements keep blood flowing in the right direction — back to your heart. 

If the valves get damaged or worn out, circulation in that area slows down, blood “backs up,” and the veins become swollen and distended. These are varicose veins, and they’re a clear indication that something’s wrong with your vein and with your circulation in that part of your body.

Common risk factors

Those are the underlying mechanics associated with varicose veins. Now for the risk factors — the conditions that make varicose veins more likely.

Older age

Not surprisingly, years of wear-and-tear on your vein valves increase the risk of valve malfunction and varicose veins. In fact, older age (typically 50 or older) is probably the biggest or most common risk factor for varicose veins. 

Family history

Like many medical conditions, if you have close family members with varicose veins, you’re also more likely to have them yourself. People with a family history of varicose veins can also develop them at a younger age.


Smoking interferes with circulation in numerous ways. In varicose veins, smoking can cause atherosclerosis, which makes it harder for blood to flow normally.

Being overweight

No doubt about it, even a few extra pounds significantly increases the load on your legs — along with the pressure on your leg veins. Extra weight increases the pressure on those tiny vein valves, increasing the risk they’ll malfunction and lead to varicose veins.


When you’re pregnant, your body gains a fair amount of weight — quickly. That added weight puts a lot of strain on the veins in your legs and pelvic area — and not surprisingly, that increases the risk you’ll develop varicose veins. 

Sedentary lifestyle

Moving your body improves your overall circulation, especially in your legs (where varicose veins tend to show up). If you spend a lot of time sitting, your circulation slows down, which means your leg vein valves have to work a lot harder to keep your blood flowing.

Standing a lot

Likewise, spending hours on your feet substantially increases and prolongs the pressure on your legs and the veins inside them. Teachers, healthcare workers, and other people whose jobs require long hours of standing can be especially prone to varicose veins.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

DVT happens when one or more blood clots form in the deep veins in your legs or other parts of your body. DVT is especially dangerous because if the clot breaks away, it can travel to your lungs, causing a potentially deadly complication called a pulmonary embolism. Having your varicose veins evaluated by our team is important for “catching” DVT as early as possible.

Get treatment for your varicose veins

Dr. Safvi offers an array of state-of-the-art varicose vein treatment options at his practices in Lake Zurich and Chicago Ridge, Illinois, tailoring every treatment plan to the individual patient’s unique needs. If you have varicose veins, call or book an appointment online and learn how Dr. Safvi and his team can help.

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