How Cold Weather Affects Varicose Veins

If you have varicose veins, then you’re all too familiar with their symptoms. Whether it be aching, swelling, or the tell-tale dark, bulging veins, you know how bad they can be. What’s more, you’re always looking for ways to relieve your symptoms.Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden from

But have you ever noticed that your varicose vein symptoms become worse when it gets cold? This is due to veins constricting to conserve heat. This, plus the festive nature of winter, can actually worsen your symptoms. On the upside, there are good reasons why winter is actually the best time of year to get treatment for your varicose veins.

In this article we’ll cover:

  • Cold weather and varicose veins
  • Why winter is the perfect time for varicose vein treatment
  • Understanding varicose veins

If you’ve noticed that your varicose veins get worse when it gets cold then keep reading. We’ll explain why that is as well as provide our number one tip for how to alleviate your symptoms when the temperature drops.

Cold Weather and Varicose Veins

Not everyone loves winter, and this can be especially true if you suffer from varicose veins. Aside from the biting cold, winter weather can have a significant effect on your varicose veins and their symptoms. 

The cold temperature actually affects your blood flow. Your body’s first instinct when exposed to cold temperatures is to stay warm. To accomplish this, your veins and muscles tighten to help pump blood to your heart more quickly. This is great for keeping warm, but it can actually worsen symptoms for varicose vein sufferers. 

Cold temperatures usually mean less physical activity. For some, this can feel like a well-deserved break from being active during the other three seasons of the year. Unfortunately, being sedentary usually makes vein problems even worse. The lack of physical activity during the winter is the main reason why most people experience increased flare-ups.

A lack of exercise can lead to weight gain any time of year, but this can be an even bigger problem during the winter. The holiday season means parties, big family meals, and treating yourself. While this may be good for the soul, the added weight can wreak havoc on your varicose veins by putting more stress on your veins and worsening your symptoms.

Now that we’ve narrowed down what makes varicose symptoms worse during the winter, let’s look at how you can alleviate them. Keep in mind that varicose veins are a chronic and progressive condition that will get worse with time. On the other hand, you can follow our favorite tip for soothing your symptoms until you can get treatment.

Relieving Varicose Vein Symptoms During Wintertime

The best way to relieve your varicose vein symptoms during winter is through exercise. When you get moving, your heart beats faster and forces blood to pump through your veins. This helps keep them flexible. When it comes to varicose veins in your legs, the contraction of leg muscles squeezes the veins and aids in blood flow to help alleviate your varicose vein symptoms.

You don’t have to work out for hours to relieve your varicose vein symptoms. It can be as simple as a brisk walk, bike ride, or anything else that activates your calf muscles. Do this for 30 minutes a day, 3 to 4 days per week, and you should begin to experience relief. And of course, go easy on dessert. 

Why Winter Is the Perfect Time for Varicose Vein Treatment  

Any time is the perfect time to get treatment for your varicose veins. With that said, many people opt to wait for winter and for good reason. This is because the colder months allow you to wear longer, layered clothing to hide your legs as they recover from treatment.

Varicose vein treatment has come a long way and is minimally invasive, but your body will still need time to recover and absorb your veins. Other side-effects can include:

  • Bruising
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Winter can also help with insurance requirements. Most insurers will cover varicose vein treatment as long as you meet certain medical requirements and your deductible has been met. On the downside, they require you to wear compression stockings for 90 days before approving treatment. Winter can help you hide the stockings just as well as the recovery process. 

Understanding Varicose Veins

If you suffer from varicose veins then you should know that you’re not alone. It’s estimated that up to 40% of women and 25% of men suffer from the condition. For most people, it’s an issue of genetics. Having one parent who suffers from varicose veins increases your risk by 40%. If both parents have varicose veins then your risk jumps up to 80%.  

Gender also plays an important factor in varicose veins. Women are twice as likely as men to develop them due to their production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones actually relax the thin layer of muscle located in the walls of our veins. What’s more, pregnancy can cause varicose veins since it increases pressure on the veins.

Another key to varicose veins can be your profession. Working in professions that require a lot of standing or sitting may develop varicose veins due to lack of movement. This strengthens gravity’s “pull” and affects our blood flow by causing more blood to pool in the legs, resulting in varicose veins. This is as true for truck drivers and cashiers as for teachers and nurses.

What Causes Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can develop anywhere in the body. However, they tend to develop most often in the lower-legs. Veins have one-way valves that open and close to keep blood moving back to the heart when functioning normally. When malfunctioning, these valves allow blood to pool in the leg, eventually resulting in the swelling and inflammation associated with varicose veins. 

This can lead to a slew of symptoms including: 

  • Dark, bulging veins
  • Aching legs
  • Itching
  • Skin discoloration

While there are things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms, you will never be able to rid yourself of varicose veins on your own. When it comes to varicose veins, the best course of action is to seek immediate treatment. 

Contact us at East Tennessee Vein Clinic to get help for your varicose veins. We treat varicose veins differently by eliminating the entire network of failed veins, not just large visibly bulging veins. You can contact us online, or call us at 865.686.0507 or toll-free at 866.281.VEIN.

“The entire process was extremely pleasant. The staff was always friendly and made me feel at home. Thanks for the great job you did on my leg. I had forgotten what being pain free felt like. Again, THANKS.”

- B. H., Dandridge, TN