Varicose Veins: Causes and Treatment

Updated: August 25, 2017

Varicose veins develop as blue and purple curving lines under the skin, typically on the legs including the calves and shins, thighs and feet. While not a technical term, spider veins and have the appearance of broken glass or a non-uniform spider web and can appear anywhere on the body but are generally found on the arms, stomach, back, face, neck and buttocks. Varicose and spider veins affect between 50 – 55% of women and 40 – 45% of men.

Spider veins and varicose veins have different causes. Varicose veins are caused by valve failure in the veins, while spider veins are caused by the rupture or hemorrhage of a blood vessel or vein. While varicose veins can only appear on the legs, spider veins can appear almost anywhere on the body.

Causes of Varicose Veins

Spider veins and varicose veins each have different causes. Varicose veins, which will only appear on the legs, are caused by valve failure in the veins. The veins of the legs, in particular, have a great number of miniature valves that prevent gravity from pulling blood down toward the feet on its journey back to the heart. When the valves fail and blood does begin flowing backward toward the ground, the veins swell under the skin and appear on the surface.

Causes of Vein Valve Failure

There are three common causes of varicose veins: Age, trauma and genetics. These are normally the main reasons for vein valve failure, the most common being age. Over the years, the valves simply wear out. However, some people’s genetics worsen the risk for them to develop varicose veins. And, damage or trauma to the veins — from a car accident, for example — can also produce varicose veins.

Other Causes of Varicose Veins

In addition to the three most common causes for varicose vein disease, others include

  • Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause
  • Pregnancy and the extra weight and strain it puts on a woman’s legs
  • Obesity, because of the load, the legs are forced to carry
  • Sedentary jobs, because of lack of movement, put pressure on the valves to work harder

Treatment of Varicose Veins

There are a number of options the varicose vein specialists at 1960 Family Practice have for treating varicose veins, including the following:

  • Endothermal ablation: The purpose of the procedure, commonly referred to as laser therapy, is so a varicose vein doctor can close off the blood supply leading to the surface of the skin using high-frequency radio waves.
  • Sclerotherapy: This is also a means of stopping the supply of blood to the swollen or hemorrhaged vessel close to the surface of the skin. Your vein specialist will use a saline solution is used to cause a collapse of the vessel’s wall lining.
  • Surgery: The veins are removed, by a vein surgeon, from beneath the surface of the skin.
  • Compression stockings: A pain relief measure, compression stockings use pressure to encourage blood flow back the heart and discourage blood pooling in your legs. This helps to reduce swollen and painful legs.
  • Transilluminated powered phlebectomy: Largely noninvasive, this procedure removes varicose veins from under the surface of the skin using a suction tube following a minor incision.

If you would like more information about treatment for varicose veins or spider veins and you are located in the Greater Houston area, please contact us by calling (281) 586-3888, or filling out an appointment request to request a consultation with one of our varicose vein doctors in Houston, Spring, The Woodlands, or Cypress today.