Capitol Vein Blog

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Causes Varicose Veins? A Myth Dispelled

One of the myths of venous disease is that varicose veins are a direct result of being overweight. If this were true, weight loss would be a ‘cure’ for venous disease. The real proven cures for varicose veins and venous insufficiency exist with VNUS Closure, ClariVein and microphlebectomy.

The real cause of varicose veins is weakness within either the wall of the vein or with the vein valves that direct one-way flow from the lower leg to the upper leg against gravity. There is a strong familial tendency to develop varicose veins and, therefore, a hereditary component is often present.  Weight gain has little effect on this factor. Other common causes of vein insufficiency include multiple pregnancies and prior blood clots (DVT).

We see many patients who have ideal body weights, are very fit athletes, or are quite health conscious who have significant venous disease causing pain or restless leg syndrome. These are the patients that tend to have a genetic component to the development of the leg veins.  Conversely, we see many very heavy patients with leg pain or swelling who have no ultrasound evidence of venous disease at all.

The bottom line:  There are obvious medical reasons to maintain a normal body weight, BMI (body mass index) and good fitness. However, doing so will unfortunately not be a cure for your varicose veins.

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