Dr. Brittany Cook’s Complete Guide to Varicose Veins in Winter

Cold weather means more than hot cocoa and holiday dinners. If you have varicose veins, it also means putting extra effort into managing your symptoms. Symptoms are a year-round problem, but they are especially difficult during the colder months. To help you be prepared, Dr. Brittany Cook has created this complete guide to varicose veins in winter.veins hurt in cold weather

Varicose vein symptoms become worse in winter due to a combination of weather and personal behavior. Your body works to stay warm when it’s cold, but this can also increase pressure in your veins and make your symptoms worse. Holidays and cold weather can also cause you to be less diligent about your nutrition and exercise which has a negative effect on symptoms. 

Fall and winter are the best times to get treatment for varicose veins. This is because long pants hide your legs while they heal, leaving you feeling more confident and looking forward to wearing shorts again. They also cover up the compression stockings you need to wear in order to have your treatment covered by your insurance carrier.

Does cold weather affect my varicose veins?

Chances are that you already knew standing or sitting for long periods of time could make your symptoms worse, but did you know that the weather does, too? According to Dr. Brittany Cook, this is due to a combination of science and personal behavior. 

The Science

Cold weather does more than make your body shiver and your teeth chatter — it can also affect your body’s natural blood flow. Your body will do everything it can to keep itself warm during cold weather to protect your organs and continue functioning properly.

This includes:

  • Constricting veins
  • Contracting muscles
  • Pumping more blood to the heart

These processes can keep you comfortable or even save your life in extreme situations. However, they can also increase pressure in your veins and make your varicose vein symptoms even worse. It’s important to stay warm during the colder parts of the year so that your symptoms remain manageable.

Personal Behavior

As Dr. Brittany Cook points out, your personal behavior during winter can also make your symptoms worse. Your nutrition and exercise habits play a big role in varicose vein symptoms, and the good habits you developed over the year can fall by the wayside during the cold-weather holidays such as Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. 

Halloween candy along with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner can derail the hard work you put into alleviating your symptoms. Don’t be too hard on yourself since most people experience this problem, varicose veins or not. What’s important to remember is that it’s going to have an effect on your symptoms, so make sure to indulge in moderation during the holidays.

Shorter and colder days can also make it difficult to exercise if you’ve grown accustomed to running and other outdoor activities. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the holidays and relaxing a little bit. 

On the other hand, it’s easy to fall back into the sedentary lifestyle that made your symptoms worse to begin with. Later in this article, we will recommend ways to remain active to keep your symptoms at bay.

Click here to learn more about how cold weather affects your varicose vein symptoms!

Dr. Brittany Cook’s Tips for Relieving Cold Weather Varicose Vein Symptoms

First and foremost, the best way to alleviate your symptoms is with medical treatment. We offer a variety of treatment options to make your legs both feel and look better. This includes:

  • EVLT (endovenous laser treatment)
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy
  • Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy
  • Cosmetic sclerotherapy

After that, your best option is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. According to Dr. Cook, it’s essential to prioritize exercise and your nutrition habits during the cold months as well as year-round. 

Fortunately, a little exercise can go a long way in decreasing your discomfort from varicose veins. The goal here is to increase circulation in your legs. To get that blood pumping, try:

  • Walking
  • Swimming in an indoor pool
  • Cycling outside or on a stationary bike
  • Yoga
  • Leg lifts 
  • Jumping on a mini trampoline (rebounding)
  • Ankle rotations
  • Calf raises

It shouldn’t take much exercise to start noticing a difference in how your legs feel. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), adults should strive for 150 minutes of exercise per week. 

That equals out to 2.5 hours a week, which can feel like a lot, but it’s much more manageable if you break it up. You can easily meet the CDC’s recommendation by engaging in moderate exercise for 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

You’ll also need to watch what you eat to get the most out of your new routine. Enjoy some holiday treats but try not to overindulge. When combined with exercise, you’ll find it much easier to reduce your varicose vein symptoms and reach your weight goals.

 Are fall and winter the best time for treatment?

The biggest benefit of scheduling your varicose vein treatment for fall and winter is long pants. While you’ll be back on your feet after treatment, it can take a while for your legs’ appearance to get back to normal. The colder temperatures of fall and winter allow you to keep your legs covered while they heal with no one else being the wiser.

It can take some extra time to finish the healing process following varicose vein treatment. This can result in your legs having:

  • Bruises
  • Redness
  • Swelling

With long pants, you can keep your legs covered through the colder months. You can spend this time looking forward to wearing clothes that your self-consciousness from varicose veins prevented you from wearing.

Keep in mind that there is no “correct time” for varicose vein treatment. The best time is always whenever it works best for your schedule. However, fall and winter can allow you to plan around the cold weather and avoid the cosmetic problems of your varicose veins without anyone else even being aware.

You may think that fall and winter are too late in the year for treatment. Click here to learn more about why colder weather is actually the best time to seek varicose vein treatment!

Compression Stockings for Varicose Veins

Compression stockings play a big role in reducing varicose vein symptoms as well as your treatment being covered by insurance. These special socks promote blood flow in your legs by being tight around the ankle and becoming looser as they go up. This reduces symptoms by pushing pooled blood upward and recirculating it throughout your body.

Varicose vein symptoms tend to get worse throughout the day and as the weather gets colder, especially if you work a job where you sit or stand a lot or have to be outside. This is especially true in professions like teaching and nursing, making your job much harder than normal. Compression stockings help to ease these problems and leave your legs feeling much better at the end of your day. 

These special stockings come in different compression ratings. Dr. Brittany Cook and her team will determine which is best for you based on your specific needs. For example, pregnant women should wear stockings with an HG rating of 15 - 20mm while nurses require a rating of 20 - 30mm.

For more on compression stockings, check out our recent blog!

How They Help

Compression stockings are a huge help for those dealing with varicose vein symptoms such as chronic swelling. This and other symptoms occur when blood isn’t being pumped back to your heart, which leads to the tell-tale inflammation and swelling of varicose veins. Compression socks help to increase comfort by promoting proper blood circulation in your legs. 

Pregnant women are also at a higher risk for varicose veins. While you shouldn’t undergo varicose vein treatment while pregnant, you can still get an evaluation in order to prepare. Compression stockings can help give you relief while you wait to undergo varicose vein treatment.

Some consider compression stockings unflattering and don’t like the idea of wearing them during warmer weather. Fortunately, the longer clothing that’s worn in winter covers up the stockings. This allows you to wear them and reap their benefits without anyone else knowing. Just put them on when you start your day and cover them with long pants, skirts, or dresses.

Insurance and Compression Stockings

Compression stockings play an important role in getting insurance coverage for varicose vein treatment. Most insurers will cover your varicose vein treatment, but they have certain requirements you have to meet first. Usually, one of these requirements is consistently wearing compression stockings for a 90-day period before getting approved.

The 90-day trial period begins on the day of your initial consultation. During your consultation, Dr. Brittany Cook will provide you with a prescription for compression stockings to wear for the prescribed period of time. You’ll need to wear these stockings consistently in order to get approved, so it’s important to prioritize them as a part of your daily routine.

Want to take advantage of the best time of year for varicose vein treatment? Schedule your free consultation today!

Weather and holiday meals work together to worsen your varicose vein symptoms during the fall and winter. This is due to a combination of your body trying to stay warm, which increases pressure in your veins, and neglecting good nutrition and exercise. Fortunately, it’s also the best time of year for treatment since long clothing will cover your prescribed compression stocks as well as your legs’ healing process.

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