It’s true that varicose veins are more common in older populations, but they can also occur in young adults. Find out why.
We usually think of varicose veins as a condition that only affects older populations, but that’s not always the case. Young people can experience venous disease, as well. Varicose veins develop for a variety of reasons, and age is just one of them.
Put simply, the condition is caused by blood pooling in the veins. Veins carry oxygenated blood through your body and back to your heart. To help pump blood through your venous system, valves open and close at exit points. When your valves weaken — due to chronic stress, aging, or overuse — they lose their full ability to open and close. Weakened valves make it difficult for blood to travel through your veins, leading it to pressurize in areas like your feet and legs. The result: varicose veins that swell up and protrude from your skin.
What Causes Varicose Veins in Young Adults?
It takes a lot of energy to pump blood upwards from your feet to your heart. The valves in your veins work hard against gravity, especially in your lower body and in your extremities. The more work your valves have to do, the more likely they are to weaken and cause varicose veins. That’s why varicose veins are common among older patients — your valves often grow tired after working for several decades.
In young patients, there are other reasons your valves might weaken. Some common causes of varicose veins in young people include:
- Sedentary Lifestyle. Staying seated for long periods of time can stress your venous system. When you’re sitting down, veins in your hips and thighs work in overdrive to move blood up to your heart. Because of this, young people who are particularly sedentary, or who work long hours while seated, have a heightened risk of developing varicose veins.
- Pregnancy. Pregnancy causes you to gain a significant amount of weight in a short amount of time. Swelling in your legs and hips places stress on the veins in your lower body. You also experience increased blood flow during pregnancy, in addition to slower circulation due to hormone fluctuations. All of these changes in your body can make your vessels work in overdrive to carry blood through your venous system, leading to varicose veins during pregnancy.
- Obesity. Excess weight puts pressure on your legs and lower body, which adds stress to the valves in your veins. For this reason, young people suffering from obesity are more likely to develop varicose veins, especially in their lower bodies and elbows.
- Genetic Factors. Some people are just born with a weaker valve system, slower blood flow, or other genetic factors that can cause varicose veins. Because of these factors, young adults whose parents suffer from varicose veins are at a higher risk of developing the condition themselves.
Treatment for Varicose Veins
If you are a young person with varicose veins, you’re not alone. Many common factors contribute to varicose vein growth among young adults. Sometimes, you can lower the risk by changing your behavior. If you have varicose veins due to obesity or a sedentary lifestyle, talk to your doctor about how to be more active, or how to lose weight.
Varicose veins can be unsightly, uncomfortable, and even dangerous in instances when a blood clot develops. That’s why it’s important to be proactive in treating the condition, whether through compression garments or a clinical procedure to eliminate your varicose veins.
Any young person experiencing varicose veins should be sure to consult a vein specialist for treatment options. At the Kimmel Institute, we specialize in non-invasive clinical vein treatment, and we can give you an expert diagnosis of what might be causing your varicose veins. To explore your treatment options, contact us at the Kimmel Institute today....