Is It Possible To Prevent Varicose Veins, Or To Keep Them From Getting Worse?
Many patients ask if it’s possible to prevent varicose veins from developing, or if they can prevent the ones they already have from getting worse. The short answer is no, unfortunately you can’t prevent all varicose veins from occuring. This is because varicose veins are largely a family affair. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, about half of all people who have varicose veins have a family member who has them too. So if your mother or father have varicose veins, you’re 50% likely to as well. If both your parents have them, that risk increases to about 80%.
Other risk factors include aging, hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity, and whether or not you sit or stand for long periods of time on a daily basis. However, while it’s true that there are no proven means of preventing the gradual progression of vein disease, there are ways we may help mitigate symptoms. Let’s take a look at 4 things you can do to alleviate some degree of your varicose vein symptoms:
Wear compression stockings.
Compression stockings are one of your first lines of defense against varicose veins for both men and women. They are often effective in reducing symptoms such as swelling, fatigue, leg pain, and aching. In fact, before approving payment for varicose vein treatment procedures, insurance companies require patients to wear compression stockings for three months.
Compression stockings work by applying pressure on your veins from your ankles to your thigh. The purpose is to direct blood flow from your legs to your heart in order to avoid pooling of blood in the veins, which is what causes varicose veins. You can purchase compression stockings at East Tennessee Vein Clinic or at a medical supply store, but it’s helpful to talk with a vein specialist first about your specific needs so you are wearing the proper grade of stocking. The stockings are available in three degrees of compression and should be put on in the morning, before swelling has a chance to build up over the course of the day.
Vary Standing & Sitting
Standing or sitting for hours at a time restricts blood flow in your legs. For that reason, your occupation is a significant risk factor for varicose veins if you work in a job that requires standing or sitting for prolonged periods.
If you’re standing most of the day, contract your calf muscles by standing on your tiptoes from time to time to stimulate blood flow in your legs. And if you’re sitting most of the day, flex and point your feet throughout the day to stimulate circulation. Even moving your legs slightly helps keep the blood flowing.
Put Your Legs Up
Elevating the legs above heart level for ten to twenty minutes a day to give your circulatory system a boost. When your legs are above your heart level, it’s easier for the blood to naturally circulate back to the heart. This can be a very effective technique for relieving swelling and aching from varicose veins, particularly at the end of the day when symptoms tend to be worse.
Exercise & Manage Your Weight
Your legs bear the burden of supporting your body whenever you are upright. It’s a simple fact but one that we usually take for granted. Being overweight puts more pressure on your legs, including the veins that are trying to pump blood against gravity back to the heart. Strive to stay within your ideal weight by eating well and exercising.
Exercising will not only help you keep excess weight off, it also helps keep blood circulating in your legs. Walking, swimming, hiking, and biking are all great options if you’re looking for low-impact activities.
These 4 tips may help reduce symptoms of varicose vein disease. However, if they are consistently causing uncomfortable symptoms or are getting in the way of your lifestyle, consider medical treatment.
Treatment for most varicose veins has advanced from what was once a hospital-based surgical procedure with a long recovery time to minimally-invasive treatments that can essentially be done in a doctor’s office during your lunch hour, with little to no down-time. You don’t need a referral from your doctor to make an appointment with a vein specialist, and most varicose vein treatments are covered by insurance.
At East Tennessee Vein Clinic, our outpatient procedures are quick, safe, and effective. We treat not only the root cause of your varicose vein disease but also are skilled in treating the branches that others often fail or are unable to treat.
Dr. Douglass, founder of the East Tennessee Vein Clinic, was the first physician dedicated solely to the treatment of vein disease in Tennessee. He trained in phlebology with Vein Clinics of America, whose founder, Brian McDonough, MD, said, “To be good at treating varicose veins, you have to do it full time.”
Dr. Douglass and his staff are dedicated to the treatment of varicose veins, and lead the region in experience and expertise of vein treatments. We treat veins differently than other clinics precisely because of our comprehensive attention to treating the root cause and full extent of each patient’s vein disease.