Varicose veins causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [2]


Varicose veins are more common in women than in men, and are linked with heredity.[1] Other related factors are pregnancy, obesity, menopause, aging, prolonged standing, leg injury and abdominal straining. Varicose veins are bulging veins that are larger than spider veins, typically 3 mm or more in diameter.[2] Varicose veins are distinguished from reticular veins (blue veins) and telangiectasias (spider veins) which also involve valvular insufficiency,[3] by the size and location of the veins.

The causes of varicose veins are not clearly understood. In some cases, it is caused by weak or damaged valves that are usually present in veins. These valves help ensure that blood in veins down not flow in the backward direction. However, when these valves are weak or damaged, blood tends to flow backward[4]. This increases the pressure inside the veins, causing them to become ballooned and tortuous over time. In some other cases, walls of veins are already weak and they might form outpouchings from the pooling and pressure of blood [5].


There are no clearly established causes of varicose veins. However, there are a few established risk factors such as Pregnancy, obesity, age, sex, family history etc. To review the risk factor please refer to the relevant section.


  1. Ng M, Andrew T, Spector T, Jeffery S (2005). "Linkage to the FOXC2 region of chromosome 16 for varicose veins in otherwise healthy, unselected sibling pairs". J Med Genet. 42 (3): 235–9. PMID 15744037.
  2. NHS Direct[1]
  3. Weiss R A, Weiss M A, Doppler Ultrasound Findings in Reticular Veins of the Thigh Subdermic Lateral Venous System and Implications for Sclerotherapy, Journal of Derm Surg Onc, Vol 19 No 10 (Oct 1993) p947-951.

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