Large, swollen veins in the legs are called varicose veins. These veins are either blue or purplish in color and often cause discomfort. People who have varicose veins might also have swollen ankles and aching legs. In some instances, varicose veins can even cause blood clots. Varicose veins occur when blood flows through the veins in the wrong direction, or there is pooling of the blood in the veins.
Here are three common causes of varicose veins.
Varicose veins affect up to 20% of women who are pregnant. These swollen veins can appear anytime during the pregnancy, but they often become more pronounced as the baby grows inside the womb. In order to support two growing bodies, women who are pregnant must produce more blood. This extra volume of blood causes varicose veins to appear. Weight gain during pregnancy, along with added pressure to the pelvic blood vessels, also contribute to varicose veins.
There are many negative health effects of being obese, and varicose veins are one of them. Being obese increases the workload of the circulatory system. This, in turn, puts added pressure on the tiny valves in the body that help to keep the blood flowing in the right direction. Because obesity also causes the heart to work much harder, more blood is necessary to flow through the veins. This added blood flow can cause blood to pool, resulting in varicose veins.
Fluctuations and imbalances of the hormones are also causes of varicose veins. This is why women who are going through menopause often suffer from varicose veins. The rise and fall of estrogen and progesterone throughout menopause cause vein walls to become thicker and less flexible. Because of this, blood cannot flow as easily, which results in varicose veins. The valves of the heart are also affected by changing hormone levels, which prevents the blood from flowing freely in both directions.
Other common causes of varicose veins include standing for prolonged periods of time, being over the age of 50, and having a family history of varicose veins.
Whether you are pregnant, obese, or in menopause, or you have varicose veins for any other reason, there are some ways to treat them. One of the most effective is laser varicose vein treatment. During this type of treatment, a laser beam is used to shrink the varicose vein. This procedure produces scar tissue inside the vessel, which seals off the vein. The procedure is not painful, and patients only experience mild discomfort afterward.