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Healthy Living Blog

Are Varicose Veins Hereditary?


Varicose VeinsThat quick wit and warm smile. Your knack for solving crossword puzzles. The recipe for the strawberry pie you make every spring.

They all came from your dear mom. But it’s likely that so did the varicose veins that make you want to wear long pants on even the nicest of spring days.

Like many conditions that are genetic, varicose veins are likely to be influenced by your environment as well. People who are on their feet all day, for example, are more likely to see that stress show up on their legs.

But let’s back up a step. We know what they look like, but what causes varicose veins? Normally, valves in your veins work to keep blood flowing from your legs toward your heart. When these valves become weakened and don’t work properly, blood can collect in your legs and cause pressure to build. This causes veins to weaken, enlarge and even twist.

Sometimes, the only issue is cosmetic and varicose veins can be ignored. Other times, they can cause discomfort, including aching and throbbing. A doctor should address your varicose veins when sores or skin ulcers develop, when they bleed or when redness, warmth, calf pain or swelling indicate that a blood clot may have formed.

Now, are varicose veins hereditary? According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, about half of all people who develop varicose veins have a family member who has them, too.

There’s not much you can do about that risk factor. Nor can women do much about their increased risk over men of developing varicose veins. Pregnancy and menopause can also take a toll on legs because hormones that come along with them can weaken valves.

But there are other risk factors you can control. Being overweight puts a lot of extra pressure on veins. And both sitting and standing for extended periods of time can force veins to work harder to pump blood to the heart.

If you are at a job that requires sitting, make sure to get moving periodically throughout the day. (And don’t sit with your legs crossed at the knee.)

If you must stand all day, try to take your breaks sitting down, preferably with your feet elevated. Wear supportive shoes and, if you’re experiencing discomfort, consider giving compression stockings a try.

The good news is that varicose veins usually can be treated on an outpatient basis. Until about 20 years ago, surgery was the only option for treating the condition. Now, laser ablation is often the treatment of choice for many doctors; studies show that it’s just as effective. Depending on the severity of the condition, laser treatment for varicose veins is often covered by health insurance.

So, thank Mom or Dad (because men get them, too) for all the good things they passed on to you and realize that the varicose veins can be taken care of if they bother you—either from an aesthetic perspective or due to discomfort or pain. Contact us today to discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing—as well as a treatment plan that’s right for you.

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