Varicose veins develop when veins cease to function properly. This is called venous insufficiency, and there are several causes. Normal veins work because of their elastic vein walls and valves as well as muscle contractions in the lower legs that help pump the blood to the heart. When the vein walls and valves become weak, the blood does not flow well against gravity and begins to pool in the veins, causing them to stretch and twist.

One of the most common reasons the veins in the legs become weak is pressure. There are several reasons why too much pressure may be put on the veins in the legs, including:

• Obesity, especially around the abdomen. This makes it harder for the heart to pump the blood up the legs. If this condition lasts for months or years, the veins and valves will become weak and not be able to push enough blood, causing the excess to pool in the vein.
• Excessive hours of standing on a daily basis, such as a teacher or nurse may need to do. This can cause the heart to overwork. Gradually, the veins become weak.
• Excessive hours of sitting, which can also cause weak veins because sitting at a desk may block the circulation in the legs, causing the veins to become weak.

There are other causes of varicose veins, including:

• A hereditary tendency from one or both of your parents or grandparents. If they have varicose veins, there is a good chance you will develop them too.
• Hormonal changes caused by puberty, pregnancy, birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
• Women are more prone to get varicose veins than men. About 75 percent of women over the age of 50 develop some form of venous insufficiency.

You may be developing varicose veins before they show below the surface of your skin. Some of the symptoms to look for are heaviness in the legs, itching and possibly a rash, discoloration around the ankles and feet and small ulcers on your lower legs. Other symptoms include swelling and cramps in the lower legs, especially at night.

Advanced Vein Center offers several treatments for varicose veins beginning with lifestyle changes. Some suggestions are to avoid too much exposure to the sun, maintain a healthy weight, avoid crossing your legs when you sit and avoid standing for long periods. Regular exercise will also help to reduce the risk of developing varicose veins.

Compression stockings that help push the blood up your leg to your heart may be all you need. There are also minimally-invasive treatments that will treat the affected vein, so it will gradually be absorbed by the surrounding tissue and disappear. In very severe cases of varicose veins deep inside the leg, surgery may be the best option.

Varicose veins are not in themselves serious, but if they are not treated, they can contribute to other serious health issues. To learn more about your treatment options, visit Advanced Vein Center in South Portland. You may be able to permanently remove the unsightly veins from your legs. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.