Your once-smooth legs now feature bulging veins, and you’re wondering how they got there. If you’re a woman, the first point to understand is that the fairer sex is twice as likely as men to develop varicose veins.
At Upper East Side Cardiology’s Vein Institute, Dr. Satjit Bhusri and our team of vascular experts have extensive experience with problematic veins, including varicose veins. The reasons why we see women far more often than men for treatment have a lot to do with uniquely female events and hormones.
Let’s take a look.
The making of varicose veins
Before we dive into why women are more prone to varicose veins, let’s take a look at what happens when a varicose veins forms.
The veins in your legs are responsible for delivering blood back to your heart for oxygenation, and they have to fight gravity and a greater distance than most veins. The veins deep in your legs, which account for 90% or more of the blood flow to your heart, benefit from strong muscles that surround the vessels and help push the blood upward.
The superficial veins in your legs, which are where varicose veins develop, don’t have this muscular support and rely solely on tiny valves that shut off as blood moves through. These valves are designed to keep your blood from spilling backward.
If these valves weaken or malfunction, the blood can pool and engorge a superficial vein, sending it toward the surface of your skin to create a varicose vein.
Why women are more prone to varicose veins
Since varicose veins are the result of venous pressure and valve malfunction, one would think that the problem would be universal among men and women. Not so fast. There are certain life events and hormonal issues that are unique to women and that can more easily lead to varicose veins.
Let’s start with pregnancy. During your first trimester, your blood volume increases by about 40-50%, but this extra blood uses the existing blood vessel network for circulation. This extra volume places more pressure on the superficial blood vessels in your legs and often prevents your valves from closing fully.
As a result, many pregnant women develop varicose veins. In some cases, these veins disappear after pregnancy. In other cases, the veins remain.
Another issue that causes more varicose veins in women is extreme fluctuations in certain hormones, namely progesterone and estrogen. While these hormones are largely tasked with regulating reproduction, they also play a role in your vascular health by keeping the walls of your blood vessels strong.
When you’re pregnant or you’re transitioning through menopause, your levels of progesterone and estrogen rise and fall, which can diminish the strength of your blood vessels, leaving them more susceptible to varicose veins.
Treating varicose veins
The good news is that no matter your sex, our Vein Insitute offers the most advanced solutions available for eliminating varicose veins, including:
- ClosureFast™ — a radiofrequency ablation procedure
- VenaSeal™ Closure System — an adhesive that closes the vein
- Varithena® — a microfoam sclerosant medication that destroys the vein
Each of these treatments is minimally invasive and highly effective at clearing away varicose veins.
To figure out which varicose vein treatment is right for you, please contact our New York City office on the Upper East Side of Manhattan to set up a consultation.