Varicose Veins | Why Do I Have Them?

You know what a varicose vein looks like, and you may have noticed a few on your own body. The next question most patients of have is what caused them. Here’s how varicose and spider veins form, and what the common culprits for their appearance are.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

The two most important contributors to varicose veins are heredity and hormones. Varicose veins run in families. Veins are affected by the female hormone estrogen, which explains why most patients with varicose veins are women. Standing for long periods of time is also a factor.

A vein becomes varicose when the valves in the veins do not work properly, so blood does not flow effectively.

To help circulate oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to all parts of the body, your arteries have thick layers of muscle or elastic tissue. To push blood back to your heart, your veins rely on their surrounding muscles and a network of one-way valves. As blood flows through a vein, the cup-like valves open to allow blood through, then close to prevent backflow.

In varicose veins, the weak or damaged valves allow blood to pool in the vein and make it difficult for the muscles to push the blood "uphill." Rather than flowing from one valve to the next, the blood continues to pool in the vein, increasing pressure and the likelihood of blockage, while causing the vein to bulge and twist.

Our legs have both a surface network of veins, and an interior, or deep, venous network. On rare occasions, an interior leg vein becomes varicose. These deep varicose veins are not usually visible, but can cause swelling or aching throughout the leg and may be sites where blood clots can form. Because superficial veins have less muscle support than deep veins, they are more likely to become varicose.

What Causes Spider Veins?

The exact cause of spider veins is unknown. Researchers believe several causes may contribute to the development of spider veins. These causes may be genetic, environmental, or a combination of both. It’s believed that most cases of spider veins are caused by chronic exposure to the sun or extreme temperatures, hormone changes, and injuries. 


Elmore Medical Vein & Laser Treatment Center is the premier vein specialty medical practice in the Central Valley. Dr. Mario H. Gonzalez and his staff offer years of experience and medical expertise that you won’t find anywhere else. Contact us today to set up a consultation appointment.

Jennifer Guidry