Are Varicose Veins Genetic? Here’s What You Should Know

Most aspects of our health are somewhat affected by our genetics. Understanding exactly what we can attribute to our genetics versus what we can associate with our lifestyle choices is important when treating specific health conditions such as varicose veins.

While varicose veins are common, affecting  30% and 60% of adults in their lifetime, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint exactly how or why you have them. 

We understand that varicose veins are common occurrences and usually not harmful or life-threatening, but the bigger question is how they are caused, especially if they seem to run in your family. 

We can say for sure that genetics do play a role in varicose vein development, but just how significant it is will be based on your unique genetic profile.

Let’s dive into whether varicose veins are genetic, including other causes, how they’re formed, risk factors, and treatment options. 

First, What Are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are twisted blood vessels visible on the skin’s surface. They may be red, purple, or blue and most often appear on the legs, feet, or ankles. Less commonly, they can appear on the face.


The most common symptom of varicose veins is their purplish-blue appearance on the skin. 

While some people may experience no symptoms, others often complain of

  • An achy or heavy feeling in the legs
  • Burning
  • Throbbing
  • Muscle cramps and swelling throughout the lower legs
  • Pain after sitting or standing for an extended period
  • Itchiness
  • Skin color changes

What is the exact cause of varicose veins?

In short, weak and damaged valves cause varicose veins.

The primary function of veins is to return blood from the rest of the body to the heart. To do so, the leg veins must work against gravity to move blood back to the heart.

Tiny valves in the veins open as blood flows back toward the heart and close to stop blood from flowing backward. 

When these valves are weak or damaged, blood begins to flow backward and pool in the affected veins. This causes the veins to stretch and twist, leading to the appearance of varicose veins. 

Are varicose veins genetic?

Varicose veins run in families often. 

Like other genetic disorders, varicose veins are considered hereditary. Your risk of developing them increases if an immediate family member has them, leading to a direct connection between genetics and varicose vein development.

If you have one parent with varicose veins, you have about a 40% chance of developing them. If both your parents have them, your risk increases significantly to about 90%.

While genetics has been directly linked to varicose vein development, various other risk factors increase your risk of developing them, whether your genes are involved. 

Other Risk Factors

There are various reasons you may develop varicose veins outside of genetic factors.

Some of the following may increase your risk of developing them:

  • Pregnancy
  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Standing or sitting for long periods regularly
  • Gender—Females are more likely to develop them due to frequent hormonal changes 
  • Those taking hormonal contraceptives

Effective Varicose Vein Treatment in North Carolina

If you’ve recently developed varicose veins, have been living with them for a while, or are experiencing worsening symptoms consistent with this condition, we are here to help by offering effective and minimally invasive treatment for varicose veins. Our vein care specialists are experts in the most advanced vein care procedures and technologies. Call 336-536-6522 to schedule an appointment today.