Varicose veins can be a problem for many people all year round, but summer seems to be the time they are most annoying. Between hotter weather and humidity exacerbating their discomfort, to the cosmetic implications of visible and unsightly veins when you wish to wear clothing with bare legs, it brings the problem to the fore and many men and women wonder what can be done about it. 

Veins are one of the two major types of blood vessels in the body. While arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart to the rest of the body, veins carry deoxygenated blood from the tissues back to the heart and lungs for reoxygenation. The third type of blood vessel, capillaries are the tiny vessels which connect the small branches of arteries (arterioles) and veins (venules) and exchange blood at the tissue level. 

Arteries are tough with thick walls to manage strong blood pressure, whereas veins have thinner walls. The pressure in veins is lower, and gravity plays a significant role in returning blood to the heart. As such, veins have one-way valves within them to prevent blood from flowing backwards.

In the legs (as well as the pelvis in some people), the veins need to return blood to the heart against gravity. Pressure can build in the more superficial veins and the valves can fail. This incompetence within the vein means blood flows backwards and may pool at the bottom of the legs, and this causes stretching and weakening in the vein wall, eventually resulting in venous disease and varicose veins.

Varicose veins can vary in severity and may cause:

  • Achiness, heaviness, and swelling in the legs
  • Bulging or twisted veins
  • Deep blue or purple veins visible through the skin
  • Burning, cramping, and throbbing
  • Itching over the vein
  • Redness
  • Localised skin thickening and discolouration
  • Ulcers

Understanding what causes varicose veins is an important first step to effectively addressing them.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are common from middle age but they can occur in younger people as well. They affect men and women, though the risk for women is greater due to female hormones and pregnancy.

  • Genetics are the single biggest factor in developing varicose veins. This is due to hereditary weakness in the vein walls. Genetically, varicose veins are an autosomal dominant trait; what this means is that at least 50% of people with varicose veins have a genetic cause for them. If you have a parent or grandparent who suffered from varicose veins, there is a stronger likelihood that you will as well.
  • Another common cause of varicose veins is a previous leg trauma. If, for example, you have ever had a broken leg, or experienced a direct blow over a valve (like a kick to the leg in a football game or with a hockey stick), your risk of developing varicosity later in life increases. 

Other common factors which contribute to developing vein disease include:

  • Ageing – the vein walls naturally weaken as we get older.
  • Obesity – puts extra pressure on the mid-section of the body and this triggers or worsens vein disease in the legs and pelvis.
  • Pregnancy – due to elevated pelvic pressure putting increased pressure on the leg veins, an increased volume of circulating blood, and higher levels of oestrogen which weaken the blood vessel walls.
  • Menopause – due to hormonal changes in the body.
  • Sitting for long periods (e.g. office workers, commercial drivers)
  • Standing for long periods (e.g. healthcare professionals, hairdressers and barbers, lecturers, retail employees, flight attendants) 

What Can I Do To Prevent Hereditary Varicose Veins?

  1. Increase activity – use your legs! Avoid sitting or standing still for long periods – go for a walk every day to improve blood flow.
  2. Maintain a healthy weight – lose excess weight if you are overweight to decrease the pressure on your veins and to improve their look and feel.
  3. Elevate your legs – put your feet up, above the level of your heart, for thirty minutes up to four times daily to give your veins a break. This enables gravity to do the hard work returning blood from your legs and feet to your heart. You can do this while watching TV, reading, etc.
  4. Wear compression socks or stockings if varicose veins are an issue for you. Put them on first thing in the morning and take them off when you go to bed at night. This is especially important for people in jobs which require standing for long periods.
  5. Consult with a vein specialist for appropriate treatment.

Varicose Vein Treatment – Crows Nest Vein Clinic  

The good news is that, despite your genetics, history of injury, or any other factor that predisposes you to develop varicose veins, you don’t have to live with them. There are effective, minimally-invasive treatments which not only address the physical burden of varicose veins but also improve the appearance of your legs. 

Smaller varicose veins (spider veins) are more of a cosmetic concern and are simpler to treat, but they do signify a potential for larger vein problems to develop. Larger varicose veins cause the above mentioned symptoms and should be treated to provide relief and to eliminate the likelihood of worsening disease and symptoms.

Crows Nest Vein Clinic is your superior choice for varicose vein treatment in the Sydney Metropolitan Area. Dr Nicole James, a leading Sydney vein specialist, offers world-class, modern treatment options for various types of varicose veins. These treatments require no GP referral, are minimally-invasive, require no hospital admission or stay, and are proven to be both safe and effective with faster recovery times, fewer complications, and more favourable outcomes. 

Contact Crows Nest Vein Clinic today to discuss the vein treatment options we offer and the safety of our services. 

We are open for business as usual, closely adhering to all COVID-safe guidelines per the current advice from the NSW Department of Health.

Call us on (02) 9906 1555 or email us at [email protected].