Varicose Veins - Premier Vascular and Vein Center

Varicose veins are very common, affecting about 3 in 10 adults in the United States. Despite these statistics, there are still a lot of misconceptions about them including their cause.

So, what exactly causes varicose veins?

To understand how varicose veins develop, our vascular team at Premier Vascular and Vein Center in Knoxville has highlighted these important things so you understand how blood flows throughout our bodies.

The blood moves towards the heart through one-way valves in the veins. These valves are placed about an inch apart to keep the blood flowing in the right direction.

When you move your legs, the muscles squeeze the veins, which then push the blood towards the heart. The valves open to allow it to successfully circulate. The blood continues to move up through the leg as it moves past each valve with every muscle pump.

When you stop moving and your leg muscles are at rest, the valves close to prevent blood from flowing backward and pooling within the legs.

Varicose veins can develop when these valves in the veins are damaged or weakened. Damaged valves do not close properly, causing the blood to flow backward in the wrong direction.

This pooling of blood into the legs increases the pressure in the superficial veins beneath the skin. This causes it to bulge and swell, a condition we now know as varicose veins.

Common Causes of Varicose Veins
The following are some of the most common causes of varicose veins:

• Being overweight or obese
Both of these can put too much strain on the leg veins and valves, making it harder for them to pump the blood back to the heart.

• Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the increased weight of the uterus can put pressure on the veins that carry blood back to your heart. This can make the veins uncomfortable, itchy, and painful.

• Lack of physical activity
Your leg muscles serve as a pump that pushes blood towards the heart. If you have a sedentary lifestyle or if you sit/stand for prolonged periods of time throughout the day, the veins have to work harder to push the blood back to the heart.

• Family history
If your mother and/or aunt suffers from varicose veins, you will more likely to develop one too. A family history of varicose veins is the biggest risk factor for its development, especially for women.

• Smoking
Smoking doesn’t just affect the vital organs of the body; it can also affect the veins. It hardens the veins and causes vasoconstriction or narrowing. Both of these make it harder for the blood to flow against gravity back to the heart.

Having varicose veins can be utterly uncomfortable. It can cause itchiness and even pain.

Don’t let these enlarged veins affect your way of life. Premier Vascular and Vein Center in Knoxville, TN has a team of board-certified vascular surgeons who are experts in diagnosing and treating varicose veins and larger vascular problems. Our physicians will discuss your options with you and recommend the most suitable vein treatment for you.

To request an appointment, call Premier Vascular and Vein Center at (865) 588-8229 or visit