If you've recently noticed strange sensations like heaviness, pain, and fatigue in your legs, you could have varicose veins. Perhaps you have a lot of questions -- What causes varicose veins? How can you get them treated? We can help you understand this adverse condition and describe your treatment options.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Your veins are responsible for carrying blood back to your heart and lungs, where it can be oxygenated before traveling around your body once again. In your legs, you have two types of veins: superficial and deep. Superficial veins are located close to your skin, while deep veins are located within muscle tissue. Valves within your veins prevent blood from flowing backward and allow blood to flow upwards against gravity when you are upright. Unfortunately, these valves can become damaged or defective. When they do, blood can flow backward. Since the legs and feet are the furthest extremities from the heart and are the most dependent based on gravity, blood tends to pool in these areas and cause varicose veins. Many people with weak or damaged valves experience symptoms, primarily after a long day. As they stand, the blood flows backward and pools in the superficial veins. Pressure builds up in the superficial veins, causing dull throbbing, aching, heaviness, discomfort, fatigue, itching, swelling, cramps, restless legs, and the appearance of twisting, bulging veins.

Risk Factors for Varicose Veins

If you already have varicose veins, there are a variety of factors that can aggravate your condition, including:

  • Obesity
  • Prolonged standing
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic constipation and other conditions that cause prolonged straining
  • Age (many elderly people have varicose veins)
  • Prior trauma or surgery to the leg

While it isn't possible to control all these factors (such as age and prior trauma), some are within your control (including obesity and prolonged standing). Whenever possible, minimize these factors to help relieve your symptoms.

Treatment Options

Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy and vein ablation are two effective, minimally-invasive treatments for varicose veins. The former involves injecting the affected vein with a medicine that closes abnormal veins. The latter involves heat-sealing the abnormal veins closed while leaving healthy, normal veins open. Patients typically tolerate these minimally invasive procedures quite well and return to work the next day.

Schedule Your Treatment

A vein doctor at The Vein Institute can help you understand what causes varicose veins and how to treat them. To schedule your free vein screening, fill out our online form and we'll be in touch with you soon.