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Does smoking lead to Venous insufficiency?

smoking effect varicose veins

Heart pumps oxygen rich blood and your arteries carry it throughout your body. Veins carry the oxygen depleted blood back to the heart and lungs. Then it picks a fresh supply of oxygen, and the process starts over.

Know the different ways smoking affect your veins

If you are a habitual smoker, you probably might know that smoking fills your lungs with tar-like dirt and increases your risk for lung cancer and heart disease, but are you aware of the damages the smoke from cigarette can do to your veins?

In this blog, we explain the impact of smoke on the veins and how you can prevent the damage or even reverse them.

When you smoke, you inhale harmful chemicals which can directly affect your heart making it harder to pump blood. Over time, these chemicals lead to irreversible changes in the venous linings as veins become narrowed. The narrowed veins create a perfect environment for plaque and fatty deposits that stick to the walls, a condition called atherosclerosis. This creates another obstacle for the heart as the narrowed passage makes it even more difficult for the heart to pump blood. As blood starts to pool in the hardened veins, it can lead to varicosities.

In addition, the carbon monoxide in the smoke lowers blood oxygen level, which can damage veins. Smoking increases the amount of bad cholesterol and decreases the high cholesterol level in your blood. As the blood viscosity changes, blood becomes thicker. Thus, the possibility of a blood clot or blockages and even a potential stroke or heart attack cannot be ignored.

As blood must fight against the gravity on its way back from the feet to the heart, health of your veins is critical in the journey. If your smoking has caused vein damage, then you are susceptible to several vein diseases.

Smoke-damaged veins and complications

If smoke has damaged your veins and the small one- way valves in them, blood flow will be hindered, and blood will begin to pool in your legs. Due to blood pooling, veins start to show through the skin and the veins may even begin to bulge out. This condition is called varicose veins.

Varicose veins and various other conditions of the veins can cause “venous insufficiency” where poor blood circulation can result in persistent blood pooling in the veins. The condition requires immediate medical attention, otherwise, it can lead to swelling, pain, and gradually develop into skin ulcers.


Due to smoking, as cholesterol and triglyceride levels remains elevated, it can cause hardening and narrowing of your arteries, a condition called arteriosclerosis. 

Deep vein Thrombosis (DVT)

As Vein valves are damaged, blood starts to accumulate in the veins, preventing circulation and developing blood clots. When a clot detaches and enters the bloodstream, a deadly condition called Deep vein Thrombosis can occur.

Benefits of quitting smoking are significant. If your veins are already damaged due to smoking, we have treatment options available at Avis vascular center that can help you repair your veins and restore the blood flow. Talk to our experts today.   

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