Are Varicose Veins and Spider Veins Hereditary?

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November 2023

Do You Wonder…

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If you have a close relative who suffers from varicose or spider veins, you may have questions about how this impacts your own risk of developing them.  Varicose veins and spider veins are signs of underlying vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency. Although there are many potential risk factors for varicose veins and spider veins, one of them is genetics. In other words, varicose veins and spider veins are hereditary.

Below we provide additional information to fully answer the questions, are varicose veins and spider veins hereditary? If you know that vein disease runs in your family and are concerned about your risk, our vein specialists are available to discuss your family history in detail. During an initial consultation, we can also review other risk factors and make individualized treatment recommendations as needed.

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What Is Vein Disease?

Varicose veins and spider veins are signs of underlying vein disease or venous insufficiency. Vein disease develops when tiny, one-way vein valves responsible for pumping blood back to your heart are placed under strain.

When this occurs, your valves can malfunction and cause blood to flow backward instead. This leads to blood pooling in the veins, which can result in the formation of varicose veins and spider veins. Most often, the legs, ankles, and feet are affected.

Vein disease causes painful and uncomfortable symptoms. Symptoms of venous insufficiency include:

  • Swelling in the legs and ankles
  • Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
  • Numbness or tingling sensation
  • Non-healing wounds on your legs
  • Difficulty standing for long periods

When left untreated, vein disease can lead to serious health conditions. These include the development of life-threatening blood clots and venous ulcers (open, non-healing wounds).

When it comes to taking care of your veins, it is important to understand your risk factors for spider veins and varicose veins. Hereditary may be one of them. With this information, you can make lifestyle modifications to manage your risks. You may also benefit from close monitoring by a vein specialist.

What Causes Vein Disease?

There are many contributing factors that can lead to the development of vein disease. Some of these may be within your control, others are not. Unfortunately, hereditary varicose veins and spider veins are one of the risk factors that you probably can’t do much about.

Risk factors for vein disease include: 

  • Genetics: Are varicose veins hereditary? Are spider veins hereditary? Many experts believe that family history is the most prevalent cause of varicose veins and spider veins. If both of your parents have venous issues, your risk further increases. It is imperative to discuss varicose vein hereditary and spider vein hereditary if these issues run in your family.
  • Age: As you get older, you have a greater risk of developing malfunctioning veins. While venous issues are more likely to appear after age 50, younger people can also be affected.
  • Sex: Women are four times more likely than men to develop varicose veins. Pregnancy plays a role in this inequality.
  • Pregnancy: Due to increased blood flow and hormonal influx, pregnant women are more likely than others to be affected. They are also more likely to experience varicose veins in the pelvic region and the lower extremities.
  • Prolonged sitting or standing: If you have a job where you are on your feet or sitting down throughout the day, you are at higher risk for developing vein disease because of the increased pressure on your veins.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts additional strain on your veins and causes damage. If you are obese or overweight, you are more likely to experience pain and discomfort from varicose veins.
  • Inactivity: Lack of physical activity affects overall blood circulation and can lead to diseased veins.
  • Smoking: Along with contributing to other major medical issues, this unhealthy habit can weaken veins and reduce blood flow.
  • Other underlying health conditions: Poorly managed health issues like high blood pressure and diabetes can result in strained vein valves. This can result in the formation of varicose veins.

We recommend consulting a vein specialist if you are at high risk for developing varicose veins. A vein specialist can closely monitor your vein health and intervene when needed. In general, early treatment leads to the best health outcomes.

Are Varicose Veins Hereditary?

Are varicose veins genetic? Family history is believed to play an important role in the occurrence of varicose veins. A 2018 study found that 61 percent of participants had a family history of varicose veins[1]. This occurrence was more frequent in patients with a paternal family history of vein disease.

The exact genetic cause of varicose veins is not entirely understood. However, a 2019 study found 9 different genes that are the most likely causal genes of varicose veins and spider veins[2]. These genes influence phenotypes such as blood pressure and blood cell traits.

While you cannot control your genes, you may be able to control certain lifestyle influences. To reduce your odds of developing venous insufficiency, we recommend that you:

  • Avoid prolonged sitting or standing
  • Move around frequently throughout the day
  • Exercise regularly
  • Lose excess weight
  • Quit smoking
  • Control other underlying health conditions when possible
  • Wear compression socks as prescribed
  • Visit a vein specialist regularly

If you already have varicose veins or spider veins, we recommend considering treatment. Minimally invasive, office-based treatment can be performed in less than an hour, from start to finish. Most patients can leave immediately afterward and return to their normal daily activities.

Are Spider Veins Hereditary?

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A family history of vein disease may increase your risk of developing the condition over time.

Although spider veins are not as likely as varicose veins to cause painful symptoms, they can nonetheless cause pain or discomfort. Treatment for spider veins can alleviate venous symptoms and improve the appearance of web-like veins.

Is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) Genetic?

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If you or an immediate family member has ever been diagnosed with DVT or another blood clotting disorder, you may be at increased risk for venous issues.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious type of blood clot that develops in the deep veins. If left untreated, DVT can break off and travel to the lungs. This can lead to pulmonary embolism, a life-threatening situation that requires emergency medical treatment.

Although it’s not the only potential cause, genetics may play a role in the development of DVT. If you have venous insufficiency, you are considered at increased risk for DVT. Conversely, if you’ve already experienced DVT, you may be more likely to develop vein disease.

Other factors that increase your likelihood of DVT include obesity, inactivity, smoking, trauma to a vein, a recent injury or illness, and cancer.

Varicose Vein and Spider Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics

If you are wondering when to get your varicose veins treated, we recommend acting sooner rather than later. Early intervention can save you from pain and discomfort and reduce your risk of developing DVT, pulmonary embolism, and other dangerous health conditions.

At USA Vein Clinics, we offer a range of minimally invasive, office-based treatments that can quickly improve your painful venous symptoms. Our specialists are available to treat your vein disease and improve your quality of life. To learn more, call 888.768.3467 or schedule an appointment online today.

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[1] “Family History as Major Predisposing Factor in Varicose Veins Disorder,” accessed September 8, 2022,
[2] Alexandra S Shadrina et al., “Varicose Veins of Lower Extremities: Insights from the First Large-Scale Genetic Study,” PLoS genetics (Public Library of Science, April 18, 2019),

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