What causes varicose veins?


“Varicose veins are when veins become abnormally tortuous and dilated. This is often associated with failure of the valves within the veins to direct blood back towards the heart. “

  • Varicose veins can occur in the main superficial veins (the long saphenous vein and short saphenous vein) and/or in any of their tributaries.
  • Current thinking is that they represent primary venous disease and occur as a result of structural weakening of the vein wall, which can be focal in nature or diffuse. This weakening is most likely the result of underlying morphologic or biochemical abnormalities, although the exact nature of these abnormalities is not understood. They can be more frequently seen in people with a family history of varicose veins or occupations that require the patient to stand for long periods of time.
  • Valvular incompetence in the superficial veins is usually present, but it is not clear if this represents an inciting factor or a secondary result of vein wall dilation.
  • Varicose veins can also occur as a result of secondary venous disease—for example, as a result of deep venous thrombosis or trauma.



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