According to the American College of Phlebology, about 55% of women will develop varicose and spider veins. Compared with men, women are twice as likely to get varicose veins.
Both men and women have common risk factors for developing varicose veins such as excess weight, family history, and age. However, women are more predisposed to varicose veins. Why, you ask? The answer is a hormone that affects veins – progesterone.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
The human body's circulatory system carries blood throughout the body and are made up of veins and arteries. The arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood all organs and muscles from the heart. The veins on the other hand are responsible for bringing oxygen-poor blood back to the heart.
Veins contain valves that ensure blood flows towards to the heart. If these valves malfunction, blood cannot move to the heart as efficiently and ends up pooling in the veins. As blood continues to collect in the vein, the vein expands and looks like strings – a main characteristic of varicose and spider veins. Although varicose and spider veins affect both genders, women are at a higher risk of developing them due to the following:
Progesterone is the hormone that regulates physical development and menstrual cycles. In addition, progesterone relaxes vein valves walls. Weak valves in veins lead to more pooling of blood in veins, leading to increased chances of varicose vein formation. Because women have a higher level of progesterone than men, they have an increased chances of developing varicose veins.
Progesterone levels increase drastically during pregnancy. Besides that, the volume of blood in the body increases, and a large abdomen exerts pressure on the legs. These conditions could cause varicose or spider veins to form. Fortunately, these veins start to disappear within three months of giving birth. Successive pregnancies inflate veins, and varicose and spider veins can become common after multiple deliveries.
How Women Can Prevent Varicose & Spider Veins
There is nothing women can do to stop their bodies from developing hormones. However, there are measures one can take to lower the risk of varicose and spider veins:
Wear Compression Stockings and Support Pantyhose
Compression stockings consist of elastic material and squeeze leg veins to promote blood flow from the legs back to the heart. They come in different lengths such as knee high, thigh high and panty hose lengths. Compression stockings are available in medical supply outlets or a drugstore.
Physical activities such as cycling, swimming, and walking tone leg muscles and promote healthy blood circulation. It is important to participate in low-impact workouts to avoid getting hurt. Women who work in places where they stand or sit for long periods should take breaks to walk or raise their legs when seated, so blood does not pool in the veins.
Maintain Ideal Body Weight
Excess body weight puts pressure on leg veins. Shedding the excess pounds eases the strain on leg veins and prevents blood clustering in the legs.
Elevate Your Legs
Practice elevating the legs above the heart position. Do this technique several times a day for about 20 minutes.
Avoid Tight-Fitting Clothes
Wearing tight clothing around the legs can restrict blood flow and worsen the appearance of varicose veins.
If your varicose and spider veins are itchy or painful or even aesthetically unpleasing for you, consider contacting us to discuss different treatment options.
At The Vein Institute of NJ, our board-certified vascular physicians are specially trained to provide all treatment services available, from cosmetic treatments to more advanced procedures for vein diseases.