Varicose veins are common, affecting about one in three adults in the United States. While anyone can get these twisted, bulging viscosities, certain risk factors — including older age, excess weight, and inactivity — make their appearance more likely.
Female gender is another significant risk factor for varicose vein formation and progression. In fact, women are twice as likely as men to get varicose veins, especially during pregnancy and as they age. Why? It mostly comes down to hormonal fluctuations.
Here, our vascular specialists at Somerset Surgical Associates, LLC explain how shifting hormones leave women more vulnerable to vein problems, discuss factors that can compound that risk, and offer a list of prevention strategies and treatment solutions to help you maintain healthy leg veins.
Women develop varicose veins more often than men for one reason: The female reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone — which both promote and protect vein health at typical levels — can have an adverse effect on vein health and function at higher levels.
These key female hormones control various reproductive processes, from monthly ovulation and menstruation to pregnancy: Estrogen and progesterone levels fluctuate through the stages of a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle; they also rise dramatically during pregnancy, leveling back off again just before childbirth.
Together, high levels of these two female hormones can have a kind of “one-two punch” effect on your leg veins:
When veins become less toned and their inner valves no longer keep blood flowing efficiently from your lower extremities back to your heart, the resulting poor circulation makes varicose vein development far more likely. When this “stage-setting” condition happens rapidly — as is the case during pregnancy — varicose veins often develop or worsen more quickly than usual.
Female hormonal fluctuations aren’t the only thing that can lead to leg vein problems; in fact, there are several significant risk factors that can heighten the hormonal problem and make vein damage more likely, including:
The more “risk factor boxes” you’re able to check, the more vulnerable you are to developing varicose veins. Luckily, you can take action to reduce your chances of having vein problems — and minimally invasive treatment options that can help you get rid of problematic veins, too.
No matter how many varicose vein risk factors you have, there’s a lot you can do to mitigate your overall risk and lower your chances of developing leg vein problems. Four important steps that you can start taking today include:
It’s also helpful to elevate your legs at regular intervals if your job keeps you on your feet all day, especially during hormone-intensive times like pregnancy.
To further reduce your varicose vein risk, it can also be helpful to wear custom compression stockings. These custom devices help protect against varicose vein formation or intensification by assisting and improving circulation in your lower legs.
If you already have varicose veins, we offer a full scope of treatment options to help you get rid of them and improve your circulatory health. A typical treatment plan combines a minimally invasive vein removal solution like sclerotherapy or venous ablation with lifestyle modifications and compression therapy to help prevent recurrence.
Whether you’re interested in varicose vein prevention, treatment, or both, Somerset Surgical Associates, LLC is here to help. Give us a call today, or click online to schedule an appointment at our office in Somerville, Somerset, or Hillsborough, New Jersey anytime.