Understanding Veins

Leg vein problems begin when the vein valves that prevent blood from flowing in the wrong direction (reflux) become weak or malfunction. This causes blood to pool in the veins, forcing them to protrude from the skin becoming tortuous or rope-like and varicose. This increased venous pressure can lead to further failure of other vein valves and to the development of varicose veins.

In addition to being unsightly and even embarrassing, varicose veins and spider veins can cause varying degrees of discomfort with symptoms that include:
– swelling
– throbbing
– heaviness
– achiness
– leg cramps

Varicose veins are a progressive disease that can eventually lead to ankle swelling, pigmentation, ulceration, bleeding, and advanced Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). It is important to seek medical treatment early in order to stop the natural progression of this disease, reduce symptoms and to achieve the best possible cosmetic results.

Spider veins often occur in conjunction with varicose veins due to increased venous pressure. They also develop on their own due to an increased number of shunts, or microscopic short-cuts, connecting the venous and arterial systems.

In women, varicose veins can manifest itself in the genital area – pelvic congestion syndrome. Pelvic congestion syndrome is caused by poorly functioning veins in the ovaries and pelvic region, which can result in varicosities in the abdomen, buttocks, vulva, and legs. Women that suffer from a generalized achiness in their pelvic area, especially when standing, lifting, or after sexual intercourse, may suffer from this condition. With today’s advanced diagnostic tools, doctors can now easily identify pelvic congestion syndrome in women.


While no one knows what causes varicose and spider veins, we do know that a number of factors can increase the likelihood of developing leg vein problems. We also know that the primary factor contributing to the development of varicose and spider veins is heredity or the genetic predisposition to weak vein walls and vein valves resulting in leg vein problems.

There are also a number of lifestyle variables known to accelerate and aggravate the development of varicose or spider veins:
– pregnancy
– birth control pills
– hormone replacement therapies
– lack of exercise
– prolonged sitting or standing
– obesity
– constipation
– aging