Varicose veins are visible signs of increased pressure within the blood vessels responsible for returning blood to the heart. When valves inside the superficial veins of your legs start to fail, pooling blood forms the characteristic gnarled appearance of varicose veins and their smaller cousins, called spider veins.
There’s often a genetic influence in the development of varicose veins, and women tend to develop the condition more than men, but you can take steps to reduce your personal risk. Dr. Clement Banda and the team at MD Vein & Skin Specialists regularly treat patients with varicose and spider veins. We’ve compiled a list of nine tips to help you avoid falling victim. If you’re already showing signs of varicosity, these tips can also slow or halt the progression of further issues.
Why leg veins fail
It’s easy to think of your heart as the pump that drives all blood motion in your body, but it has very little influence on the return trip that starts where arteries end and veins begin. Veins have a series of one-way valves that prevent backflow and aid the progress of blood back to the heart. Pumping action comes through the contractions and relaxations of leg muscles as you walk and move through your day.
When you have varicose vein risk factors, they combine to interfere with normal conditions, affecting parts of the venous pumping system. Pressure increases, valves fail, blood begins to pool, and varicose veins appear.
9 tips to reduce your risk of varicose veins
Small lifestyle changes can add up to big results in preventing or slowing varicose vein progression. Use these tips together to boost their effects.
Sometimes, being stuck in a stationary position is unavoidable, usually in a work situation where you sit or stand motionless as you perform your job. Build in quick breaks every 20 minutes to shift positions. Sit if you’re standing, and stand if you’re sitting. Walk a few steps to aid circulation.
Elevate three times a day
Raise your feet above heart level for 15 minutes, 3 times a day, to give your legs a much-needed break from the effects of gravity.
Watch your BMI
If you’re carrying extra pounds, your blood has farther to go, and venous blood pressure climbs. You can reduce these effects by achieving and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI).
Dedicated exercise time
There’s no need to work out or join a gym. Simply add 150 minutes of walking, swimming, or biking each week — that’s less than 30 minutes a day.
A diet rich in whole foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains, helps control BMI and ensures your body has the nutrients it needs for general health and repair.
Sleeping when pregnant
Varicose veins are a common side effect of pregnancy. Sleeping on your left side relieves pressure on an important vein in your pelvis and in the veins of your legs.
Consider hormonal events
While sometimes you can’t do anything to stop hormone changes, events like pregnancy and menopause change the walls of veins, and they stretch more easily and may lead to valve failure. Talk to your doctor about your concerns when selecting oral contraceptives or hormone replacement methods.
Add support to your veins by choosing compression socks and stockings; several compression options are available.
If you smoke, stop. Varicose veins are yet another danger of tobacco use.
When you need dedicated medical help, call or click to schedule an appointment with MD Vein & Skin Specialists. We can help you before or after varicose veins make an appearance. Book your visit today.