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Why do varicose veins seem to affect the legs so much?

Why is it that varicose veins seem to affect patients' legs more so than other areas of the body. Are there other places where patients frequently experience varicose veins?


Doctors Answers (5)

Varicose veins affect the legs much more than other areas primarily due to gravity, since the legs are at the bottom of the circulatory system. Blood draining from the head, arms, chest and abdomen have a far shorter distance to travel back to the heart compared with the legs which have to move larger volumes of blood to support the large leg muscles. Varicose veins are possible in other locations often due to traumas, surgery, venous obstructions and congenital but these are not common.

The main reason legs are mostly affected is gravity. When the defective valves inside the veins don't do their job, blood pools down by gravitational forces since we stand for many hours per day. Besides the legs, varicose veins can also occur in lower pelvis area.

The effects of gravity are most pronounced in the legs. If we walked on our hands more we would get varicose veins in are arms more. We see varicose veins in the pelvis and perineum when there is stenosis of the ovarian vein especially on the left side.

Varicose veins affect the legs so much because of the hydrostatic pressure caused by Gravity. Blame your veins on Isaac Newton! Because your legs are below the level of your heart, blood has to travel "up hill" to get from your legs to your heart. The veins have a series of one way valves to ensure the blood travels toward your heart. When those valves fail, gravity pulls the blood back down into your legs. This condition is called venous insufficiency, or venous reflux. Because the legs are the lower most part of your body, the hydrostatic pressure is greatest. Your upper body is at roughly the same level as your heart, or higher than your heart, so there is little or no hydrostatic pressure affecting those areas. Bulging veins in the hands are caused by two factors. First, because the hands are below the level of the heart, gravity pulls the blood down the arm, and hydrostatic pressure causes the veins to distend. Second, as we age, the skin on the back of the hand becomes thinner, letting the veins bulge more and making the veins more visible. Prominent veins on the face are not due to the effects of gravity, but rather due to increased venous pressure form coughing, sneezing, and exertion.

It's all about gravity. As we stand, gravity pulls the blood to pool more in our legs and feet than other parts of our bodies. Our legs and feet have to fight gravity more, than say our hands. Varicose veins also occur in the groins and genitalia (of females) more frequently than in the hands. more gravity.

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