For most people, it is surprising to learn that many teenagers and young adults get varicose veins. It may be even more surprising that they may actually need varicose vein treatment at such a young age! The primary reason for this is the fact that the strongest cause of varicose veins is genetics.
In most cases, when varicose veins develop in a teenager, there is a strong family history of varicose veins, often on both sides of the family, but not necessarily. Genes that cause varicose veins tend to be expressed dominantly, meaning you only need to get one copy from one parent. Weak or faulty vein valves, caused by heredity, are the most common underlying culprit for varicose veins, especially in young people.
The actual age at which children or teens get diagnosed with varicose veins, serious enough to warrant varicose vein treatment, can catch parents off guard. One vein doctor in Williamsville, New York, diagnosed and treated a boy for varicose veins when he was only eight years old! Another doctor treated a twelve year old boy from Surrey, England for varicose veins. Many doctors at vein clinics around the world regularly treat teenagers under eighteen years of age! While the risk of needing varicose vein treatment rises dramatically after age fifty, it is far more common in teenagers than most people think, especially considering the fact that many cases of varicose veins in teenagers go undiagnosed because teens and their parents just think the problem they’re seeing could be varicose veins so they don’t go to the doctor to ask.
In the 1990s, Dr. Mark Whiteley, the Director of The Whiteley Clinic and a vascular surgeon, conducted a research project which gives us good insight into just how many girls have varicose vein disease. He and his colleagues performed duplex ultrasounds on school age girls looking for vein valve abnormality and damage, the primary cause for varicose veins. They found that by age nine, one out of every twenty girls had vein valve damage leading to venous disease! By age eighteen, one out of every nine girls had developed significant vein valve damage! Observations by vein doctors today suggest that similar ratios would be found in boys, but back in the 1990s, doctors just didn’t think to look for this in boys!
In some cases, varicose veins in young people are congenital, meaning the physical problem causing them are evident from birth. Some babies are born with missing vein valves, or fewer valves than normal, in some of their veins. Others may be born with larger than normal veins or veins that have have unusually weak vein walls. It should be noted that sometimes the congenital condition may not be noticed until a child is older and varicose veins are visually seen or other symptoms like leg pain are experienced by the child. In these cases, a pediatrician may make a referral to a varicose vein treatment clinic. A doppler ultrasound test will then uncover the hidden defect.
Another reason a young person may develop varicose veins is physical injury or trauma. In a teenager, this is most commonly caused by playing high school athletics. Injuries that can lead to varicose veins are not just due to “rough” sports like football, as some automatically assume. For example, high school track and field athletes tend to get joint injuries that can lead to the formation of varicose veins. Cheerleading is also a common cause as cheerleaders tend to stand a lot and for long hours which exacerbates any physical injury they may get during their ambitious cheerleading routines. If a sports injury occurs, it is best not to just “tough it out,” as many young people tend to do. You’ll want to get the teen to a varicose vein treatment center so they can have a doppler ultrasound test to determine if there is vein or vein valve damage.
For young people, the social stigma of having visible varicose veins can be much higher than in older people, when they are normally more expected and therefore socially accepted. Therefore, younger people with varicose veins, particularly teenagers, tend to have much more anxiety about wearing shorts, skirts, or swimsuits in public. Sensitivity should be shown for this as peer pressure is the highest in the teen years. Luckily, minimally invasive varicose vein treatments like ultrasound guided laser treatment or foamed sclerotherapy can usually clear these veins with no scarring and very little recovery time.
Keep in mind that many varicose veins remain hidden so deep that they are not visible from the surface of the skin. Therefore, if you are the parent of a teenager, and you or your spouse has a strong family history of varicose veins, it would be a good idea to have your teen checked out by a highly reputable varicose vein treatment clinic like Metro Vein Centers. They can perform a doppler ultrasound test to determine if your teen has any hidden varicose veins, blood clots, damaged vein valves, or other physical signs of damage to their veins that may need treatment to prevent it from getting worse. Metro Vein Centers provides one free consultation so you can see where you stand.