Varicose Veins Can Happen to Anyone

Man and Woman relaxing together

Varicose veins are enlarged areas of the vascular system that can present an unattractive appearance on the surface of arms, calves, thighs or other parts of the body. These vein enlargements can happen to people of any age, race or gender and may be a cause of embarrassment and discomfort. A specialist in vascular problems can offer a variety of treatments to reduce the unsightly appearance.

How Many People Have This Condition?

As many as 60 percent of the population will develop vein problems. The incidence of developing varicosities spreads out widely across all adult age brackets. Genes play a part in the likelihood of developing vein problems. In many families, vein problems may occur as early as the 20s and can become increasingly worse over the decades.

Vein Problems in Women

Fifty to fifty-five percent of women will be affected with varicose veins at some time in their lives. A number of factors can affect vein health in women. Monthly hormonal changes affect the veins and their ability to carry blood through the body. Fluid retention may be a problem at certain times of the month. Pregnancy and birth can put additional strain on the vascular system, particularly in the lower body, which may be severe enough to require treatment.

Vein Problems in Men

In the United States, 40 to 45 percent of men will have vein problems at some time during their lifespan. Standing or sitting for long periods of time on the job can have a detrimental effect on blood flow throughout the body and on vein health. Men often do jobs that require standing on their feet over machinery or driving for long distances. Other men may do a great deal of airplane travel, which keeps their legs in a cramped position for hours at a time. This positioning has a detrimental effect on blood flow through their legs and can lead to deep vein thrombosis, a serious vein condition that should be treated by a vascular specialist.

Vein Problems in Older People

Vein problems affect about half the population over the age of 50, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This problem occurs because the vascular system, like other parts of the body in older people, may not function as well as they do in earlier years. Some medical conditions can also affect vein health. Thinning of the skin can cause small injuries to have a greater effect beneath the skin. Medications can also affect the amount of fluid in the body, which can affect vein health.

Racial and Ethnic Differences in Occurrence

People of European heritage may have a slightly greater risk of developing vein problems than those of Asian or African backgrounds. However, women throughout all ethnic groups have a greater risk for varicosities than men. In general, people who are taller and heavier tend to have more vascular problems.