March 27


Varicose Veins in Legs

By Dr. Jose Almeida

March 27, 2019

All About Varicose Veins in the Legs

Varicose veins is such a dreaded condition that causes daily pain and swelling. One of the most common places for varicose veins to appear is in the legs.

"Varicose veins are prevalent in the legs due to blood flow against gravity."

What causes varicose veins in the legs?

Veins are floppy, tube like structures that carry blood from the body back to the heart. The veins rely upon valves in the vein to move blood toward the heart and prevent blood from moving the wrong direction. The muscles of the body squeeze the veins to push the blood back toward the heart.

Varicose veins occur when the valves no longer close properly causing blood to back up and the walls of the veins are stretched. This creates painful, swollen veins that are seen just below the skin surface.

Types of Varicose Veins in the Legs

There are different types of veins in the leg, which vary by location. There are:

  • 1. deep veins that are found within the muscles of the leg
  • 2. superficial veins that are found just below the skin surface
  • 3. communicating veins which connect the superficial and deep veins

The superficial veins are most commonly affected, which is why they are well seen on the skin as blue, twisted, and bulging veins.

Why are varicose veins common in the legs?

Varicose veins can occur in any area in the body, but are more common in the legs, which is due mostly to the fact that blood has to move against gravity, even more so than in other areas of the body.

Of the portions of the leg, the calf is the most common site for varicose vein formation due to these veins being farther from the body and blood pooling against gravity. 

But calves aren’t the only portion of the leg that are affected. The thigh is also commonly affected by varicose veins too. The added pressure from the pooling of blood and stretch of the vein can begin to creep up the calf and into the thigh, especially if there are multiple risk factors, or poor management of varicose veins.

The superficial veins in the legs branch off of one another to supply blood to different areas of the legs. At the sites for branching of veins, particularly in the mid thigh and behind the knee, there can be increased pressure and improper flow leading to higher pressure and development of varicose veins.

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Who is at risk for Varicose Veins?

About half of all people will develop varicose veins in their lifetime. Keep in mind that family history, being a female, pregnancies, carrying extra body weight, and sitting or standing for long periods of time all increase the risk for varicose veins.  Learn more about the causes of varicose veins at

Some people may not have any symptoms of their varicose veins, other than appearance, but many people suffer from swelling, pain, rashes, throbbing, and cramping. Treating varicose veins doesn’t have to be difficult or painful and many things can be done at home.

These include elevating your legs above the level of your heart multiple times per day or at least in the evening or overnight, wearing compression stockings, daily low impact exercise, weight loss, and moving the legs more during the day, especially with sedentary jobs. 

What to do if you experience varicose veins

If these conservative treatments fall short and you still suffer with varicose veins, there are procedural options such as vein stripping, endovascular laser therapy, and sclerotherapy that can provide permanent treatment options.

Dr. Jose Almeida, a board certified surgeon, at the Miami Vein Center is a leading expert in the care of varicose veins. He has years of experience helping patients prevent, treat and manage the complications of varicose veins.

Dr. Jose Almeida

About the author

Dr. Jose Almeida, MD, FACS, RPVI, RVT is a veteran academic vascular surgeon who practices Endovascular Venous Surgery in Miami, FL. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery in both Vascular Surgery and General Surgery.

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