Varicose veins are a common disease

Here you will find answers to your questions on varicose veins

Frequently asked questions

What causes varicose veins?

Varicose veins develop because of a congenital weakness in the connective tissue and are the result of blood pooling in the superficial veins due to leaky valves. With time, the blood vessels dilate more and more to become varicose veins.

The two vein systems in the legs are the deep vein system lying within the muscles of the legs and the superficial vein system nearer the skin. Most of the venous blood returning to the heart flows in the deep veins; the superficial veins have only a supporting role. This means that, as superficial veins, varicose veins are not actually needed for blood transport and can be removed or closed permanently without any problem.

So that the leg veins can transport blood back to the heart against gravity, they are equipped with valves at regular intervals. As described previously, the deep veins transport most of the venous blood, aided by the muscles in the legs and the pumping function of the heart. If the leg muscles are being used, e.g. when walking, they compress the deep veins that lie between them and force the blood out of them. The valves make sure that the blood can flow in only one direction towards the heart and prevent it flowing backwards towards the feet.

If a connective tissue weakness exists, the superficial veins expand, but the valves do not expand along with them. The result is that the valves no longer function properly as they cannot close tightly in the now dilated vein. Blood can flow back towards the feet. A permanent backflow develops which, in turn, enlarges the veins even further. A vicious circle ensues, and this cannot be broken without medical treatment.

Risk factors such as advancing age, pregnancy, taking hormone products such as the Pill, lack of exercise, standing for long periods at work, overweight, and smoking all encourage the disease to develop and make the symptoms worse.