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Dr. Brittany Cook on What Causes Varicose Veins

Itchy, swollen legs are extremely irritating and uncomfortable, especially after a long day. In some cases, symptoms can be so severe that you can’t enjoy activities you once did, such as hiking and swimming. Veins that are dark and bulging can also make you feel embarrassed, causing you to wear pants all year long. But what actually causes varicose veins to develop in the first place?Varicose veins treatments

According to Dr. Brittany Cook, varicose veins are often caused by genetics, biological sex, or your profession. Regardless of the source, they all cause the one-way valves in your veins to malfunction, leading to the symptoms that can make your life miserable. Diagnosis and treatment are essential to rid yourself of them.

Dr. Brittany Cook on What Causes Varicose Veins

The number one reason for varicose veins is family history. If both your parents have varicose veins then you have an 89% chance of developing them yourself. Biological sex is another important factor with women being four times as likely to develop them than men. In fact, around 50% of women will be affected by varicose veins at some point in their lives.

This is due to higher levels of estrogen and progesterone. They cause the thin layer of muscles in the vein wall to relax, making them more prone to venous disease. Pregnancy puts increased pressure on women’s veins which only makes the problem worse. 

Your profession can also play a part in developing varicose veins. If your job requires a lot of sitting or standing, like being a nurse or doing desk work, then pressure can increase in your veins more easily. Both activities can cause blood to pool in your legs, so it’s important to sit down occasionally or get up and walk depending on your situation.

Click here to learn more about what causes varicose veins!

How Varicose Veins Develop

Varicose veins are the result of increased pressure in the leg vein. This is due to the one-way valves inside the veins malfunctioning and becoming stuck open, preventing blood from being pumped back to the heart. Instead, the blood pools in the leg causing inflammation and common symptoms of varicose veins.

Varicose vein symptoms in the leg include:

  • Heaviness
  • Restlessness
  • Aching
  • Swelling

Affected legs can also become discolored in the advanced stage, accompanied by skin ulcers and bleeding.

Click here to learn more about venous insufficiency and how it can affect you.

Diagnosing Varicose Veins

The cause of varicose vein symptoms is often invisible. While you may develop the tell-tale dark and bulging veins associated with the condition, other inflamed veins are often hidden below the surface of your skin. However, visible veins are a clear sign that you have a system of diseased veins that require treatment to get rid of your symptoms at their source.

Dr. Brittany Cook and the team at East Tennessee Vein Clinic use ultrasound imaging to locate the source of your symptoms. This allows them to see beneath the skin and create a map of your network of veins. Ultrasound imaging is essential to locating the diseased veins so that a treatment plan can be developed to deal with them.

Treating Varicose Veins

Dr. Brittany Cook suggests a combination of treatments to help treat your varicose veins. This ensures that every aspect of your condition is addressed to help prevent them from ever returning. 

Common forms of varicose vein treatment include:

  • Endovenous thermal ablation
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy/microphlebectomy
  • Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy

Endovenous thermal ablation is usually the first treatment you’ll receive. We use a catheter to treat varicose veins through the saphenous vein, which is the large, shallow vein in your leg. The catheter uses heat to seal up diseased veins as it’s withdrawn to treat symptoms at their source. This treatment is 99% effective and the procedure only lasts around 15 minutes.

Ambulatory phlebectomy/microphlebectomy usually follows endovenous thermal ablation and is ideal for patients with large, ropey veins. In this procedure, we make a puncture and remove the vein using a tool known as a “knitting hook.” We’ll provide you with nitrous oxide and a local anesthetic before treatment, so you don’t feel a thing.

Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is the final step for varicose vein treatment. It involves injecting foamed sclerosants into the vein, sealing them off, and preventing them from creating more symptoms. It’s essential for preventing the recurrence of varicose veins in the future. 2 - 3 sessions are usually necessary for it to be fully effective.

Are you ready to finally be rid of your varicose veins? Schedule your free consultation today!

Varicose veins are the result of family history, biological sex, your profession, or a combination of causes. They all lead to the same problems of the one-way valves in your legs malfunctioning, causing blood to pool in your veins. To rid yourself of symptoms for good, you’ll need to be diagnosed with varicose veins and receive medical treatment.


Contact us at East Tennessee Vein Clinic to get help for your varicose veins. We treat varicose veins differently by eliminating the entire network of failed veins, not just large visibly bulging veins. You can contact us online, or call us at 865.686.0507 or toll-free at 866.281.VEIN.

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