What Makes Varicose Veins Worse?

Varicose veins are large, twisted veins just below the surface of your skin. They’re an extremely common vascular problem, affecting an estimated 23% of American adults.

The top complaint regarding varicose veins is that they’re unsightly or embarrassing, but symptoms can go beyond being simply cosmetic. Varicose veins can cause swelling, muscle cramps, and itchy skin.

Whether you’re bothered by pain or embarrassment, our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute can help. Kunal Patel, MD, and our team of specialists offer diagnostics and treatment for varicose veins.

To some extent, you can’t control whether or not you’ll develop varicose veins or how severe they’ll be. But there are some risk factors that you can change. Dr. Patel shares a few common factors that affect varicose veins.

Body weight

Being overweight or obese can impact your health in a variety of ways. Extra body fat makes your muscles, organs, and veins work harder, and carrying extra weight could contribute to varicose veins.

Obesity puts extra pressure on your abdomen and your legs. Increased blood pressure increases your risk of vein damage, because there’s a greater chance of congestion within veins as blood travels back to your heart.

Activity level and lifestyle

Living a sedentary lifestyle may increase your risk of developing varicose veins and make existing varicose veins worse. Spending long periods of time sitting makes your vascular system work harder to return blood to your heart.

It’s a common misconception that sitting with your legs crossed increases your risk of varicose veins. Crossing your legs won’t cause the condition on its own, but it can make existing varicose veins or other vascular problems worse.

On the other hand, spending most of the day standing is hard on veins, too. Since your legs are so far from your heart, veins are put under increased stress when you stand in one place for too long.


Like carrying extra weight or spending long hours on your feet, being pregnant puts increased strain on your vascular system. When you’re pregnant, the amount of blood in your body naturally increases, and this can enlarge your veins and increase your blood pressure.

Pregnancy, increased blood volume, and hormones all contribute to varicose veins, making it a common issue that many expecting mothers face. The good news is that varicose veins that develop during pregnancy often improve on their own a few months after your baby is born.

Other varicose vein risk factors

You can’t control every risk factor for varicose veins. Gender, age, and genetics all play a role in whether or not you’ll develop them. For example, women are at least two times more likely than men to have varicose veins.

For women and men alike, risk increases with age because veins naturally weaken over the years. People with a family history of varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) may be at increased risk for developing varicose veins themselves.

Schedule a varicose vein evaluation at NJ Cardiovascular Institute to find out what you can do to keep your varicose veins from getting worse. Call the office nearest you in either Secaucus or Newark, New Jersey, or book an appointment online.

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