Do Tight Clothes Cause Varicose Veins?

Do tight fitting clothing (Bike Shorts, compression shorts) contribute to varicose or spider veins? Thanks!

Doctor Answers 6

Tight clothing does not cause varicose veins

The previous answer doesn't make sense at all because we ask people to wear compression garments to reduce development of spider and reticular veins. So, tight pants will not cause spider and varicose veins. You would have to be a hip hopper and wear your pants at the level of the groin to cause venous obstruction by pressure and this would not be practical for one and you would need a lot of pressure - so, the answer is an emphatic NO. You would need a sandbag on the groin to cause compression related venous obstruction of the common or superficial femoral veins!

Buffalo Phlebologist
4.8 out of 5 stars 41 reviews

They do not.

Years ago when women wore constricting girdles, these theoretically could have caused enough constant constriction to cause an increase in venous back pressure and ultimately the formation of varicose veins.  In reality, however, the cause of varicose veins is due to malfunctioning (leaking) valves of usually the saphenous system. Constricting garments will not cause valve damage to result in varicose vein formation.

John Landi, MD
Naples General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

Tight fitting clothes...

are not a specific causative factor for varicose veins but if these clothes restrict blood flow, over time you may notice that veins develop distally (further down) in the leg.

soccer players that use a tight elastic band to hold up their shin pads significantly increase the back pressure in the superficial veins of the lower leg.  this can certainly over time cause increased incidence of veins.

pants or clothing that is tight in the groin could also possibly cause this but there is no evidence to date.  this would be an interesting study to undertake though.

great question


Craig Crippen, MD
Kelowna Physician

Causes of varicose veins and spider veins

Tight clothing is not the main cause of varicose veins.  Varicose veins are caused by genetics, occupation, venous reflux, the environment, trauma, and hormonal changes in the body. 

Raffy Karamanoukian, MD, FACS
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 94 reviews

Possible for tight clothes to cause varicose veins

Anything that obstructs blood return from the legs causes increased back pressure, and this could lead to vericose veins and spider veins.

Also, standing in one place without moving your leg muscles will contribute to this as well.

Scott E. Kasden, MD, FACS
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 106 reviews

Varicose veins and tight fitting clothing

I could see how tight clothing around the thighs (probably depends how tight) might actually contribute to varicose veins. The reason why gravity is such a big factor in promoting varicose veins is the increased pressure within the blood vessels of the lower extremities. Tight clothing around the thighs can, in theory, impede the return of blood flowing from the legs back to the heart, increase the pressure in those veins, and thereby promote the development of varicose veins. Use of graduated compression stockings, on the other hand, that cover the feet, ankles, legs +/- thighs can help prevent the development of varicose veins.

Bryan K. Chen, MD
San Diego Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.