If you have grown up seeing the legs of your grandmother, and your mother, and are determined to escape what seems to be a destiny of having road map veins on your legs you may have some questions. You may want to know what exactly a varicose vein is, and what you can do to avoid them. We are VenoCure, a medical clinic dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of venous disease including varicose veins in the Dearborn and Brownstown area. We also are the clinic of preference for many area physicians for cardiac testing. We will devote this week’s blog to varicose veins and what you can do, and can’t do to change your vein destiny. If you have questions that are not addressed here or would like to pursue official diagnosis and treatment, contact our office.

What is a varicose vein?

  • First, a reminder that while arteries deliver oxygen blood all over the body, it is the job of the veins to deliver oxygen-depleted blood back to the heart where it is pumped to the lungs for reoxygenation, back to the heart and back out to the body.
  • The veins have the tough job of getting the blood back up to the heart and have to do their work against gravity.

What causes varicose veins?

  • Instead of traveling in one direction, toward the heart, blood in a varicose (or future varicose vein) reverse direction, falling victim to the effects of gravity.
  • The blood pools in the vein and pushed the pressure of the blood pushes out on the walls of the vein, causing them to distend.

Are spider veins the same things as varicose veins?

  • Mechanically, spider veins are exactly the same as varicose veins.
  • The main difference is the size. Spider Veins are very small, surface veins.

Are they genetic?

  • We are sorry to say that genetic predisposition to develop varicose veins is the number one contributing factor to having them. If both of your parents have varicose veins, your chances of them are above 90 percent.
  • Your chances are significantly less if just one parent has them, but if you are a woman, your chances are greater than if you are a man. If you are a woman, you run a 62 % chance, while if you are a man your risk is just 25%.
  • Even if neither parent has them, however, anyone runs a 20 % risk of developing them.
  • Obesity is also a contributing factor to varicose veins.  

What are other risk factors?

  • Standing or sitting for long periods of time increases your risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Pregnancy increases the chances because of the increased blood volume and how hormones influence the veins.
  • Localized trauma also increases the chances, for instance, if you suffer a blow to the leg, the impact may damage the valve in the vein, you will be more likely to develop varicose veins in that area.

I know they are ugly, are they dangerous too?

  • While varicose veins are not life threatening cause many people pain. They can cause throbbing pain, tingling, itching and burning sensations.
  • They can also lead to what’s known as venous ulcers. For example, as you get older your skin thins and if you have bulging varicose veins at the surface of your legs, they will more likely leak, rupture and this leads to bruising or open sores. The preventative measure is to have the veins treated when you are younger.

To find out more about varicose veins and how they diagnosed and treated, read part two of this blog series. Contact our office for more info.