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Varicose veins are a common condition in which enlarged veins are visible through the surface of the skin. They typically look blue or red and can appear swollen, bulging, and twisted. They tend to appear on the legs, usually on the thighs and backs of the calves. Although it is not always possible to prevent varicose veins, understanding your risk factors could help you control your risk. If you have any of the following risk factors and develop varicose veins, a vein specialist in Houston can offer treatments to improve their appearance.

Age

Although varicose veins can and do occur in people of all ages, they are much more common in older adults. As you age, wear and tear can weaken the valves in your veins, allowing blood to back up in your blood vessels. This excess blood causes the veins to bulge and swell, leading to varicose veins. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 50 percent of people over 50 have varicose veins. Although you cannot control your age-related risk of varicose veins, lifestyle choices can lower your overall risk of vascular disease.

Obesity

Excess weight puts pressure on your veins, especially those in your legs. This pressure can weaken your veins and cause varicose veins to develop. Being sedentary, which is often associated with obesity, can further increase the risk of varicose veins. Varicose veins are sometimes difficult to diagnose and treat in obese people, because of the depth of the vein, and obese people have a higher risk of complications associated with varicose veins, such as venous ulcers. Treatment by a vein specialist can help obese people avoid these complications.

Gender

Women are significantly more likely to develop varicose veins than men. Doctors speculate that hormonal changes, including those caused by pregnancy, menopause, and taking birth control pills, increase the risk of varicose veins. In most cases, varicose veins that develop during pregnancy resolve themselves within the first three months after delivery.