Do varicose veins worsen over time?

Varicose veins

Have you noticed that varicose veins seem to have appeared suddenly?

Although varicose veins are not a cause for immediate concern most of the time, once varicose veins appear, the condition worsens over time because it is chronic.

As people age this health condition becomes more common, and as many as half of adults might develop varicose veins. People with a family history of varicose veins, who are overweight, who spend hours standing on the job, women who are pregnant or take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy all are at a higher risk for the development and progression of varicose veins.

The underlying cause for varicose veins is venous insufficiency. This is a condition in which the one-way valves fail, especially in the legs, causing blood to flow backward and pool in the leg veins. Varicose veins look like bulging, twisted clusters of blue or purple veins. Faulty valves and increased pressure in your legs can cause vessel walls to weaken and veins to swell and protrude.

The long-term effects of gravity also play a role in varicose veins and spider veins. Gravity pulls the blood back down the legs, putting stress on the valves. As we age, the valves and vein walls weaken. Eventually, the valves fail, and the result is venous insufficiency. Genetics can play a role in the development of varicose veins.

As varicose veins worsen, the following symptoms might appear, such as:

· Throbbing or aching varicose veins

· Itching or burning around the veins

· Dry or irritated skin around the varicose veins

· Heavy and/or tired legs

· Leg muscle cramps

· Legs are painful when sitting or standing for a long time

Many varicose veins sufferers find that wearing compression socks or stockings during the day can help symptoms. This is because the compression improves blood flow. Elevating your legs after prolonged walking or standing can also help improve blood flow.

If the progression of varicose veins reaches a concerning level, it is time to seek medical attention. Consult your doctor if you notice any of the

following symptoms regarding your varicose veins.

· Dark patches of skin, sores, or ulcers

· Bleeding varicose veins

· Varicose veins that are painful and feel hot to the touch

· Persistent pain and swelling of the legs or areas around the varicose veins

· Worsening symptoms

San Diego Vein Institute can assess your symptoms, especially those symptoms that continue to be bothersome. A vascular specialist will discuss treatment options to relieve varicose veins and associated concerns. San Diego Vein Institute is located at 336 Encinitas Boulevard, Suite 130, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (760) 944-9263 or visit