Ugh…those awful spider veins! They look awful and they can really hurt, too! If you have been distressed recently and noticed the appearance of little red and blue lines on your legs, don’t panic. Yes, you are young, healthy, and quite fit, so why would you see those “old lady” leg symptoms?
You may not like how they look, but the fact is they are really nothing to become upset about. In fact, they happen to be quite normal. With that said, there are some facts you should know about spider veins even if you are young. This is the best way to protect the appearance of your legs and enjoy healthy aging!
Today, let’s talk pregnancy and varicose veins: the struggle is real. When you first get pregnant, people will prepare you for a lot of things. From nausea and cravings to fatigue and mood swings, chances are you probably think you’ve heard it all. If only that were true.
For as many as 70% of expectant mothers, varicose veins can come as a somewhat frightening surprise. After all, the last thing you want to see during your pregnancy are unexpected (and unwanted) surprises on your body!
What’s worse? Those veins may not stick on your legs. Many pregnant women develop varicose veins of the vulva. Or they get hemorrhoids, which are actually varicose veins in the rectum.
However, there’s no need to worry: while varicose veins may be uncomfortable, they are not dangerous for you or your pregnancy. Learn more about what causes varicose veins during pregnancy, and what you can do to solve the problem safely.
Why Do Pregnant Women get Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins around the legs, breasts, rectum, and vulva are a very common side effect of pregnancy. Because it now has another being to support, your body produces more blood during pregnancy, which can result in added pressure on your blood vessels.
Effects on your breasts
Spider veins on your breasts may appear as your blood volume increases during your pregnancy. They’ll likely appear in your first trimester, and may continue during breastfeeding. At that time, the milk in your breasts can make the veins more visible, but they should fade when your baby weans.
Now, if you also notice pain, redness or fever, you may have an infection called mastitis. This can develop if bacteria enters your milk duct, and can be serious if you don’t seek immediate treatment.
Lower Body Pregnancy Effects
This effect is particularly pronounced near your lower body, as your legs are responsible for working against gravity to deliver the extra blood to your heart. This blood also moves more slowly than normal, increasing the pressure placed on the veins and causing them to bulge. In addition to bulging veins, the extra blood has been known to cause hemorrhoids and swollen vulva.
It may sound strange, but the varicose veins in your vagina are a common effect of pregnancy. They are caused by increased blood flow to your vagina, and also by your growing uterus, which puts pressure on those veins. Plus, increased production of the hormone progesterone during pregnancy is also a contributing factor to the development of varicose veins. Wherever they may pop up.
Addressing Leg Swelling
Of course, varicose veins aren’t the only troubling pregnancy side effect. So many women also develop swollen legs and ankles. In fact, the two symptoms often go hand-in-hand. And they’re triggered by the same problem: extra weight puts more pressure on your lower extremities. That pressure makes it harder for blood, and other fluids, to leave your legs and return to your heart, so your veins and legs often swell from the extra fluid.
Fortunately, there’s one common solution to both these issues: compression socks. When you wear compression socks while you’re pregnant, they can offer pain relief by encouraging proper blood flow. These compression socks can also help prevent edema (swelling) as well as varicose veins. But what if you’ve already noticed these pesky veins popping up? Just keep reading to find out your next best steps.
Treating Varicose Veins in Pregnancy
While your varicose veins pose no risk to you or your child during pregnancy, they are unsightly and can be somewhat painful. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe, all-natural options for alleviating discomfort until they recede naturally.
Elevate Your Legs: When you have some time to lie down and relax, try to elevate your legs above your heart for about 15 minutes. This will help the blood recirculate appropriately, and is most effective if done at least three or four times a day. To maintain results, consider wearing compression stockings during the day.
Practice Proper Sitting: Try not to cross your legs, or sit on your feet, to preserve blood flow.
Watch weight gain: Being overweight increases your varicose vein risk. Your doctor can suggest a healthy, targeted weight gain based on your pre-pregnancy Body-Mass Index (BMI).
Try Warm Baths. These can be especially soothing to varicose veins in your vagina. But stay away from hot baths, as they can be dangerous for your baby.
Stay Mobile: While being pregnant can zap your energy, staying active is essential to preventing and alleviating varicose veins. Hardcore gym trips aren’t necessary; simply work in a few walks or some light cardio each day to promote stronger circulation during pregnancy.
Skip Tight Clothing: That’s especially important around your stomach, waist and legs, since snug fits can restrict your blood flow.
Sleep On Your Left Side: While it might take some getting used to, sleeping on your left side comes with a number of health benefits, including the reduction of varicose veins and an increase in blood flow to the fetus. Sleeping on your left side reduces the amount of pressure put on the vena cava, your body’s largest vein, which is located on the right side of your body.
Take Your Vitamins: A healthy diet rich in vitamin C can work wonders for improving vein health during pregnancy, by providing your body with the tools it needs to generate collagen and repair damaged blood vessels.
In most cases, varicose veins fade on their own once pregnancy has ended…but sometimes, that just isn’t the case. While surgical vein treatments are not safe during pregnancy, they could be your best option for removing varicose veins after you’ve welcomed your child.
If you’re ready to fight back against varicose veins, Texas Endovascular offers a number of varicose treatment options to ensure that you receive the right results for your exact needs. Our procedures are minimally invasive, require only local anesthesia, and can be performed conveniently in-office. Discover what Texas Endovascular can do for your post-pregnancy body, and schedule your consultation today.
Are you exploring varicose vein treatment for men? We know people always say that men make the worst patients. And, as it turns out, that may actually be true!
Here’s the story. Statistics show that men are less likely than women to seek treatment for what they consider ‘minor health issues.’ Unfortunately, many people think of varicose veins as a simple cosmetic problem. So men are unlikely to seek medical attention for these bulging veins.
But this thinking is a problem. Because varicose veins aren’t just ugly: they can be a sign of more serious medical conditions like chronic venous disease (CVD). For that reason, you can’t dismiss vein-related health issues. In fact, if they’re left untreated, those veins can actually cause life-threatening health complications.
Varicose Veins are not a Gender Issue
Varicose veins affect men and women of all ages. Now, while older individuals have a higher risk, they can develop at any age. And that happens when blood pools in the veins of your lower extremities, causing them to stretch out. Over time, they stop returning to their normal size, leaving them swollen, bumpy and visible through your skin.
Then, as your disease progresses, the veins can become so swollen that their valves no longer meet close completely. Which is a big problem, since that allows blood to flow in the wrong direction. (We call that reflux.)
As we mentioned before, varicose veins are more common in seniors. (That’s due to the loss of tissue and muscle mass and weakening of venous walls that naturally occurs with age.) But they can strike at any age, and are very common in men. In fact, approximately 45 percent of men will have varicose veins at some point in their life.
The likelihood of developing varicose veins is higher if you have a family history of vein-related health issues. Standing for long periods during the day and sitting for too long also increases the risk of varicose veins.
Worried you’ve got a problem? Symptoms of chronic venous disease include heaviness, pain, cramps, and swelling in the legs. On their own, or together, they can keep you from your daily activities.
Health Risks of Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are often the first sign of a serious, progressive condition called venous disease. Varicose veins can progress to cause swelling in the legs and hyperpigmentation (skin darkening) in the ankle area, caused by blood pooling in the veins. When this occurs, it is not unusual to develop painful, debilitating ulcers in the skin above the ankles on the inside of the leg.
Varicose veins also put you at risk for blood clots, ulcers, and other painful and dangerous conditions. When blood pools in the legs as a result of varicose veins, it can easily develop into phlebitis, a superficial but painful blood clot that is not usually life threatening. However, if left untreated, phlebitis can worsen and grow into deep veins, where pieces of the clot may break off and move through the blood stream. Traveling bits of blood clots may become lodged in the lungs and cause a life-threatening blockage called a pulmonary embolism.
While a greater percentage of women get varicose veins than men, men often develop more severe cases. This is largely because men frequently ignore the signs of vein problems until they experience significant discomfort, while women are more likely to seek treatment before dangerous complications have a chance to arise.
For minor cases, wearing compression socks is often enough to keep blood from pooling in the veins and keep it moving back to the heart. Exercise regularly to improve blood flow. And think about limiting your salt intake. Remember, men who notice signs of varicose veins should consult a doctor right away. So they can choose simple treatments like switching to a different type of socks.
In more severe cases of varicose veins, it may be necessary to have veins treated with lasers in a process called radiofrequency laser ablation (RFA). In this quick outpatient procedure, energy is applied through a laser fiber inserted into the vein to collapse and seal it shut, which causes blood to be diverted into healthy veins nearby instead. The procedure is generally painless and takes about thirty minutes. Afterward you can return to work and resume normal activities almost immediately.
Want to hear even better news? Research from the Journal of Vascular Surgery proves that, after two years, RFA offers similar results to surgeries that remove varicose veins. Even better? with RFA, you don’t have to worry about hospital stays or extended recovery time. While you will have to follow our specialists’ post procedure instructions, you should be able to return to your daily activities almost immediately.
So listen up guys: if you suspect you may have varicose veins or venous disease, contact Texas Endovascular today to schedule an appointment. Don’t push off a consult: if you wait until your varicose veins progress, you may find yourself dealing with a more serious, potentially life-threatening condition.
Sure, they feel tight, but did you know there’s a hidden danger of Spanx and skinny jeans? And that’s a big problem, because so many women love to rock these style staples? To begin with, let’s take an impromptu poll: raise your hand if you’ve ever squeezed into shape wear so that little black dress fit just a bit better. Or if your jeans are so snug they could be painted on your legs.
So many of us have, and why not? It seems like a foolproof way to look our best without having to suffer through hours at the gym or weeks of deprivation. But there is a catch: spending too much time in restrictive clothing and shape wear can actually take a toll on your body.
Danger of Spanx and Tight Clothing for Your Health
Wearing tight clothes like skinny jeans or compression garments restricts circulation in your legs. It leaves your blood stagnant and can worsen varicose veins.
These garments also put added pressure on your abdomen. Eventually, that pressure travels down to your legs, ultimately hindering your blood flow.
After a few hours in Spanx, skinny jeans or other compression garments, you may start to experience:
Tingling and Numbness
Since shape wear has to put a lot of pressure on your midsection to keep your rolls in check, it also restricts circulation to your lower body. Over time, if you wear these garments frequently, you may develop a condition called meralgia paresthetica, with symptoms like numbness, pain, and tingling in your legs and feet.
Varicose Veins or Blood Clots
Unfortunately, compression garments can also affect your vein health. When your midsection is on lock down, it’s tough for blood to get down to your legs and feet (see above.) But it’s also tough for the blood already in your lower extremities to get back up to your heart when it has to pass through the compression zone. That means blood can pool in your lower body, putting pressure on your veins until they bulge and become visible through your skin (spider veins.) With repetitive wears, the damage to your veins may be cumulative, and may even increase your risk of blood clots, since varicose veins are a risk factor for DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a condition in which blood clots form in the deep veins of your legs.)
Dangers of DVT
This last danger of Spanx is a big one. According to the American Heart Association, 2.5 Million Americans suffer from DVT each year. And, of those people, 600,000 end up in the hospital. Your DVT risk is highest if you’re over 60, but this potentially life-threatening condition can strike at any age. For that reason, if you have any DVT risk factors, including long flights or road trips, age, venous insufficiency and, yes, wearing Spanx, our office is happy to offer DVT screenings.
Stay Safe and Smooth with Shapewear
Now, we know how great your shapewear is, so we’re not telling you to throw it out the window. Instead, we’re suggesting caution. Don’t wear compressive garments all day, every day: instead, leave them for special events with limited hours. And when you are wearing them, give your circulatory system and veins a little help by taking walking breaks: the movement will get your leg muscles pumping, which can help get blood flowing into and out of your legs.
And remember: if you have any symptoms, follow these important steps. Stop wearing your Spanx right away, and see if your symptoms improve. Then, if you still notice issues, call the office right away for an immediate appointment.
Since varicose veins are primarily caused by inactivity in the legs over a long period of time, getting out there and doing some exercises can help prevent and alleviate the symptoms associated with varicose veins.
How Does Exercise Help Prevent Varicose Veins?
While there’s no way to completely prevent varicose veins, regular exercise can help reduce the chances that you’ll get them. Simply changing your sitting or standing position regularly can improve your blood circulation, which helps reduce the amount of blood swelling the veins in your legs.
Exercise can increase your body’s ability to pump blood up the leg back toward the heart. It also helps keep your weight down, which further decreases your chances of getting varicose veins. Walking is a good choice, as are low-impact activities, such as swimming and biking.
What Exercises Prevent Varicose Veins?
If you already have varicose veins, exercise can keep them from getting worse and also help alleviate pain and discomfort. Generally, low-impact exercises are best, and include the following:
Walking or Running
Walking just 30 minutes a day for five days a week can yield good benefits. If you run, try to find a grassy surface or synthetic track to minimize the stress on your joints.
You need to do this move regularly to see the benefits. But the great news is that this is one of the exercises for varicose veins that require no equipment. To start your leg lifts, sit or lie on your back while sticking your feet straight out. Lift one leg at a time up, holding it in the air. Slowly lower it down and repeat with the other leg.
Bicycling or Bicycle Legs
Riding a bike or stationary bike is also helpful. It strengthens your calf muscles, which helps pump blood out of your legs and keeps it flowing in the right direction. If you don’t have access to any kind of bike, you can try this bicycle legs exercise. While lying on your back, put your legs in the air, bending them at the knee. Pedal them slowly as if you are bicycling. Try both legs at once, or alternate one at a time.
Working your leg muscles sends more blood to your heart. That makes your heart work harder, so it’s ready to do the important job of circulating blood through your body. To get into proper lunge position, stand with your legs apart. Step forward slowly, bending your knee and making sure to keep your knee directly above your ankle. Hold it, then slowly straighten your leg and step back to your original position. Repeat with the other leg. While standing with your legs straight, rise up on your tiptoes and then lower back down. Repeat.
Rocking Your Feet
Like calf raises (see below), rocking your feet can strengthen leg muscles that are important for your circulation. Then, as a bonus, it can also help you improve your balance! Ready to give it a try? While you’re sitting or standing, rock your feet back and forth from heel to toe. This can be done at any time and is also helpful if health conditions prevent you from trying other forms of exercise.
Other Vein Health Exercises to Consider
When you suffer from chronic vein disease, you are vulnerable to venous leg ulcers: hard-to-heal sores that develop on your legs due to a combination of damaged capillaries and lymphatic ducts, and lack of oxygen in your lower legs. Once they develop, ulcers are hard to heal because, once again, of the shortage of oxygen reaching your lower limbs.
Fortunately, managing your vein disease with doctor-approved exercise can help protect you from developing ulcers. And, if ulcers have already formed, new evidence suggests that certain exercises may speed up your healing process!
Calf Raises and Venous Leg Ulcers
According to Dr. Laura Bolton, a member of the Wounds advisory board, evidence suggests that structured exercise training (SET) can help speed up the healing process for both venous leg wounds and diabetic foot ulcers. Chief among those exercises included in the SET program? Calf raises, thanks to their ability to get the heart pumping and improve circulation to the lower extremities.
In her study, 77% of patients with venous leg ulcers had completely healed after a 12-week progressive exercise program; only 53% of non-exercisers enjoyed the same result. When it came to diabetic foot wounds, individuals who exercised for just 30 of the 96-day trial window saw a dramatic result in the size of their ulcers.
In revealing her findings, Bolton said: “This suggests that the more patients engage in calf muscle exercise, the more and earlier they improve their chronic VLU or DFU healing…[This could lead to saving] limbs and lives of patients. ”
Calf-Raise Routine for Improved Circulation
While no vein disease patient should engage in a new exercise routine without a doctor’s supervision, it is a good idea to discuss your physical activity once you’ve been diagnosed with vein health issues. Ask your doctor if it is safe to try this calf-raise routine, and you may just enjoy preventative or healing health benefits!
Standing Calf Raises
Position yourself on a staircase, with your hands resting against a wall or a sturdy object for balance and your heels hanging off the back edge of the stair. Raise your heels a few inches above the edge of the step so that you’re on your tiptoes. Hold the position for a moment, and then lower your heels below the platform, feeling a stretch in your calf muscles. That’s one rep; aim for three sets of 10-15 reps each. Please note that you may have to build up to that level of performance.
Seek Varicose Vein Treatment
Exercise can be helpful when dealing with varicose veins, but you may also need treatment to achieve better results. Texas Endovascular offers minimally invasive, in-office procedures that don’t require general anesthesia or sedation. Several different treatment options are available for varicose veins, and each requires little or no recovery time. In fact, most patients are able to return to work the same day. We’ll choose the procedure that will yield the best results in your particular case, improving your comfort level as well as appearance.
Contact Texas Endovascular at (713) 575-3686 today for more information about the best exercises and treatments for varicose veins and to schedule an appointment!
You can prevent varicose veins, with a little help from your Houston vein specialists. When you develop varicose veins, it’s typically because your vein walls and valves have sustained damage. Often, that damage occurs because of a combination of two factors: compromised blood flow and increased pressure. When the valves in your veins don’t work well, blood has a hard time flowing back to your heart. When it can’t flow back to your heart, the blood builds up in your legs. And when the blood builds up in your legs, it puts a lot of pressure on the walls of your veins. That’s when they start to stretch and bulge, and become visible through your skin.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Symptoms of varicose veins include:
· bulging, blue or purple veins
· leg pain or heaviness
· itchy skin
· changes in skin color
· leg cramps, especially in the evenings
Can I Prevent Varicose Veins from Developing?
Certain factors, like your age, pregnancy and family history all increase your risk of developing varicose veins. Your job can also drastically increase your varicose vein risk. In fact, people with certain careers are very likely to develop varicose veins. These include many medical professionals, and people, like truck drivers, who often have to travel by car or plane for their jobs.
All day standing is also a big risk factor for vein health problems. Which is why restaurant and retail staff, hairdressers and barbers, and people who work on assembly lines are very vulnerable to vein disease.
But there are measures you can take to lower your risk of developing new varicose veins. Some of these moves can also improve the appearance of existing vein damage.
Drink More Water
You need water to improve your blood flow and strengthens the muscles that support your veins. Also, staying hydrated helps thin your blood, meaning it has an easier time circulating. It’s also less likely to clot, which reduces your risk for deep vein thrombosis (DVT). But how much water is enough? On average, you need to drink 8 ounces of water every two hours. But if you’re larger than average, or exercise more (see below), you’ll need more fluids.
You also need to avoid foods and drinks that dehydrate your body, especially ones with lots of salt (sodium.) Instead, choose foods with high-water content. We especially recommend cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, peaches, and oranges. And, on the veggie side, cucumbers, celery and zucchini are all great options.
Getting regular exercise helps improve blood flow in your legs—walking several times a week, for at least 30 minutes each time, will strengthen your calf muscles and improve your blood flow. Both will help prevent blood from pooling in your legs and putting pressure on your vein walls.
Prop up Your Tootsies
Whenever you get the chance to take a break, sit down and get your feet up (ideally above the level of your heart.) This will get that blood flowing back where it belongs.
Move More Every Day
Standing or sitting for long periods of time can take a toll on your veins. If you can get up and move around, or sit down and take a load off, at least once an hour, this will minimize the toll taken on your veins.
Drop Some Pounds
The closer you are to your ideal weight, the less pressure you put on your veins, and the better your entire circulatory system will function.
Take on Outside Pressure
When your body is having problems pushing blood out of your legs, wearing therapeutic compression socks or stockings can help minimize potential vein damage.
While all of these factors can help decrease your chances of developing varicose veins, if you have an increased risk of vein disease, you should stick to regular visits with your vein specialist. That way, if problems do develop, we can catch and treat them as soon as possible. So, if you’re overdue for your vein health check-up, schedule an appointment with our team right away!
CVD (Chronic venous disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency) refers to several vein problems. And all of those problems are chronic. But what does that mean for you? If you have CVD, you may develop varicose veins, spider veins, and/or ulcers on your lower legs.
Now, that’s what can happen with venous disease. But, why does CVD occur? Well, the condition develops when the veins in your legs can’t return blood to your central circulatory system or heart. Ignore the problem, and CVD will get worse. Which could mean pain, damage to your legs, and other medical issues such as blood clots. That’s why it’s important to know the risk factors and warning signs of CVD. So you can receive a diagnosis and treatment plan before you face serious complications.
What is My Risk Factor for Chronic Venous Disease (CVD)?
Unfortunately, just getting older puts you at higher risk for CVD. As your body ages, the valves in your vein face more stress. And that can prevent your blood from flowing out of your feet and legs, back to your heart.
Gender is another risk factor. Because women get CVD more frequently than men. Why is that the case? Things like hormone replacement therapy, and hormonal birth control can increase your risk. And so can pregnancy, because it adds to hormonal changes and physical stress. Finally, genetics are a risk factor. People with a family history of varicose veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or other vascular diseases are more likely to develop CVD.
Now, how you live also makes a difference for your vein health. If you’re obese, sedentary or spend lots of time of standing or sitting, you put pressure on your veins. Then, if you add in insufficient physical activity, you’ll really up your risk for CVD. If any of that sounds familiar, now’s a good time to get exercising. Because staying active will help improve your circulation and keep your body better supplied with oxygen.
What are the Symptoms of CVD?
If you experience any of the following symptoms or have chronic or debilitating leg pain, it is best to seek evaluation and discuss treatment options with a medical professional as soon as possible. Left untreated, these symptoms could worsen, causing more pain or even more serious medical conditions.
Leg aches and pains
Leg cramping and night gramps
Tired or heavy legs
Rashes, skin darkening, or patches of dry itchy skin on the leg
Burning or itching veins in lower extremities
Ulcers on the leg that are slow to heal
Blue, bulging twisted veins (varicose veins or spider veins)
Swollen or tight-feeling ankles
Lymphedema (a build-up of fluid underneath the skin)
Texas Endovascular provides several treatment options for patients with chronic venous disease. Contact us to schedule a consultation if you are experiencing any of the above symptoms.
Treatment Options for Chronic Venous Disease
Early detection and treatment can decrease pain of CVD and reduce the risk of developing additional, more serious medical complications.
Detection and diagnosis of chronic venous disease, as well as arterial disease and blood clots, is done with a diagnostic ultrasound evaluation. This technology enables a sonographer to see inside the body and locate both superficial and deep varicose veins.
We offer wide variety of treatment options for chronic venous disease, including:
We often use ultrasound guided sclerotherapy to close any residual, non-bulging varicose veins after radiofrequency ablation. The procedure uses ultrasound to access a vein. Using a small needle, a medication combined with carbon dioxide gas is injected into the abnormal vein to close it. The procedure is quick, and patients are able to resume their daily activities immediately afterward. Anti-inflammatory medications and compression stockings may be used to help manage any discomfort following RFA and ultrasound sclerotherapy.
Our additional treatment options for eliminating bulging and spider veins caused by CVD include:
Radiofrequency perforator ablation
Varicose Vein Help in Texas
Dr. William C. Fox and Dr. Eric Hardee of Texas Endovascular specialize in treating patients with chronic venous disease using state-of-the-art technology and minimally invasive procedures. The results provide quick relief from the symptoms of CVD, and patients are typically able to resume their normal, day-to-day activities immediately following treatment.
If you are experiencing symptoms of CVD, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact our expert physicians today to schedule a consultation.
Let’s talk about exercise and varicose veins. We all know that exercise is good for your general health. But when vein disease gives you varicose veins, some exercises will help you, while others can hurt your condition. Usually, exercising more will make your veins bigger. That’s because they have to send all that pumping blood back to your heart. And, evidence suggests that the more you exercise, the healthier your veins will be as well. Basically, exercise gets your blood pumping, so it flows up your vein faster. That creates “shear stress” on your vein wall. Which causes vein wall cells to secrete nitric oxide. This is a chemical that preserves your vein wall health. So, for the most part, exercise is key to improving your vein health.
In certain cases, however, exercises may cause vein problems. Especially if you already have varicose veins. Want to get your veins healthy the right way? Read on for our ‘dos’ and don’ts’ of exercising with varicose veins. Please note that we recognize many readers will currently be avoiding the gym, so we’ve included recommendations for great, at-home exercise options.
The Best Exercises for Varicose Vein Sufferers
First things first: if you have vein disease, talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise programs. (If you’re planning to start a new routine right now, we can help get you cleared in office or with a Telemedicine appointment on the secure Doxy platform.) Once you’re cleared for activity, our Houston area vein specialists recommend starting with low-impact workouts like walking, bicycling or swimming.
Why are these great choices? First of all, you can try any of these activities while following social distancing guidelines. Plus, we like vein disease sufferers to use their legs. When you do, you strengthen those muscles, making them contract harder and helping push blood out of your legs and back up to your heart.
In other words, stronger calf muscles make for better circulation. And that means you’re likely to experience pooling blood and other complications associated with venous insufficiency.
And, in addition to circulatory benefits, you can expect to see other positive effects: your will likely lose weight, lower your blood sugar levels and keep your blood pressure down, helping improve your vein health—and keeping the rest of your body in tip-top shape.
Varicose Vein Warnings for Cyclists
While bicycling is a good vein health exercise, be careful about extended cycling routines. Serious bicyclists are more vulnerable to a kind of varicose vein known as a perforator vein. Perforator veins take blood through your muscles to your deep veins, where it goes back up to your heart. Your legs have about 150 perforator veins, and their valves come under pressure when you bike. Why?
Serious cycling puts lots of pressure on your calf muscles. It starts when you push pedals. Then, it causes huge pressure in your leg, which should cause your blood to push back to your heart. That’s why vein specialists often recommend bike riding as a good exercise for varicose veins.
Unfortunately, in some cases that pressure is too much for your valves, causing them to fail. While we don’t know exactly why this happens, studies suggest it could be a result of hunched postures or other contributing factors.
Want to prevent cycling complications? Just use caution when you bike ride. Try to practice good posture, and don’t push yourself too hard, especially if you already have varicose veins. After all, studies still suggest that your potential vein benefits outweigh the chance of popping a valve. So just proceed with caution and follow your doctor’s advice.
What Workouts Should I Avoid if I have Varicose Veins?
When you have varicose veins, some workouts might actually worsen your condition. We tell our patients to avoid exercises like lifting weights, squatting, or even some yoga poses. So now’s not the time for a new, at-home yoga routine. Without the guidance of an instructor, it will be hard to make vein-safe modifications.
Here’s why: Anything that increases pressure on your abdomen and lower body is not recommended, since it can reduce or stop the amount of blood flowing from your legs back to your heart. That, in turn, may allow blood to pool in your legs, causing your veins to stretch out and, possibly, fail.
It’s also important to know that high impact exercises, such as running and jogging, may cause your varicose veins to swell more, although wearing compression stockings and sticking to soft training surfaces can help lessen the impact of this form of exercise. But walking is always a great, lower impact option!
When Should I Treat my Varicose Veins?
Contrary to what you may have heard, varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic concern. They are a sign that something has gone seriously wrong within your circulatory system. For that reason, you should see a vein specialist as soon as you notice a vein that’s getting darker or sticking out above the profile of your skin, even if our initial consult is remote. The earlier we catch and treat varicose veins, the less likely it is that your vein disease will be able to progress. So please reach out today and request a Telemedicine or in-office visit.
It’s best to treat spider veins and vein disease early. In order to do this, however, you need to know your personal risk factor. Plus, you have to spot problems at their onset. So, today, we’ll help you with both those tasks.
Varicose Vein Risk Factors
You can develop varicose veins at any time, but certain factors may elevate your risk. First, you should know that these veins are typically caused by faulty valves that affect the ability of your blood to flow back towards your heart, leaving it to pool in veins that then stretch out over time.) Predisposing factors include:
– Family history – Sedentary lifestyle – Carrying extra weight – Constricting foot wear/high heels – Pregnancy Any of these factors can contribute to your likelihood of developing varicose veins. If you have one or more risk factors, it is even more important for you to look out for the earliest warning signs that indicate your veins have been damaged.
Initial Symptoms of Varicose Veins
In order to detect vein disease, you have to actually look at your veins on a somewhat regular basis. People with dark, more visible veins are often more likely to develop a problem. Individuals whose feet are swollen at the end of the day are also at risk of developing varicose veins, and should talk to their doctors immediately if this symptom persists beyond a day or two.
Light red spots may also appear on your lower legs before the tell-tale swelling and bulging of varicose veins actually appears. These spots may be a sign of a burst blood vessel, or other forms of venous insufficiency. Other symptoms may also include:
– peeling or itching skin – an unnatural shine on your legs – unnatural coloring on pigmentation on the surface of the skin
Any one of these symptoms should be sufficient cause for you to undergo a diagnostic vein scan, but in combination, multiple warning signs should send you to your vein doctor immediately.
Of course, varicose veins can also develop without any warning from initial symptoms. Because of this fact, it’s important to undergo regular vein health check-ups, especially if you know that your risk for vein disease is elevated in any way. Just remember, the earlier you catch a vein problem, the simpler it will be to resolve your symptoms. And, at the end of the day, isn’t that what everyone wants?
5 Little Known Spider Vein Facts
Know that you’ve got the basics down, you’ll love learning these lesser-known spider vein facts.
1. As gnarled as their skin may look, elephants and other beasts don’t get varicose veins: only humans do. Unlike animals, who typically walk on four legs, the pressure put on human ankle veins from standing on two legs is what often leads to varicose veins.
2) Severe pain is not a symptom of varicose veins (except in rare cases where the veins have become inflamed;) dull aches after standing and itchiness are symptoms. Typically, however, it’s the cosmetic symptoms, not the physical ones, that lead patients to seek treatment.
3) Spider veins are not just your grandma or pregnant friend’s problem: they are way more common than you think. In fact, 30 per cent of all woman and 20 per cent of all men have large varicose veins. Of course, the chance of developing spider veins increases with age: by the age of 60 years, 50 per cent of all individuals have some sort of varicose vein.
4) Most varicose veins don’t require surgical treatment. Many veins can be treated on an outpatient basis with sclerotherapy, a procedure that uses an injection to shrink vessels and improve blood flow; radiofrequency ablation, a treatment in which a catheter is used to deliver heat to a vein, thus shutting it down; or a number of other treatment options that allow you to walk out of the clinic and go home on the same day as your procedure!
5) Treating varicose veins is important. Left untreated, skin damage that may simply start as dry, scaly, itchy skin can progress to form an ulcer, a hard-to-heal lesion that can be both painful and unsightly.
When it comes to your vein health, knowledge is power. The more you know about spider veins, why they develop and how they should be treated, the less likely you are to develop long-term problems as a result of this condition!
Varicose veins are unsightly, and they can make your legs throb and ache. They typically appear on your legs due to force of gravity and the pressure of our body weight. Our leg veins have the job of moving blood from the bottom of our body up to the heart, and if the valves in those veins malfunction or become weakened, they don’t do their job efficiently. As a result blood can pool in our legs, and the veins become stretched and may leak or protrude.
And varicose veins can cause other problems. Check out what happens when you ignore these veins.
Varicose Veins can Lead to Medical Complications
Left untreated, varicose veins can cause you plenty of problems. Some of the most serious include:
1. Clots. Because your blood sits without circulating, varicose veins increase your risk for blood clots. And blood clots can be dangerous, especially in the deep veins of your legs (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT.) And DVT is a medical emergency, because the clot could break free and make its way into your lungs (pulmonary embolism.)
2. Bleeding episodes. Varicose veins may start bleeding—either with or without an injury. In fact, for older individuals, even a slight bump of your varicose veins could trigger bleeding.
3. Ulcers. When you have varicose veins, your surrounding skin may be inflamed—this happens if your skin’s small blood vessels sustain damage. Once that damage occurs, your reduced circulation brings less oxygen-rich blood to the damaged skin, slowing its healing time. And if months pass without healing, it’s a sign you’ve got an ulcer, a condition which could put your entire limb in danger of amputation.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of developing varicose veins. Try incorporating one (or more) of these habits into your daily routine to enjoy maximum protection!
Get Some Moderate Exercise
Walking, biking, and swimming are excellent ways to improve circulation, especially in the legs. You don’t have to join a gym and lift weights to prevent varicose veins from forming. Even 20 minutes of walking, just twice a week, will make a difference in your leg strength and reduce your chances of developing varicose veins.
Change Up Your Diet
If you are really serious about preventing varicose veins, it’s time to make some changes at each meal. You don’t have to go on a drastic diet, just make adjustments like reducing your salt intake and adding in some high fiber foods. Swap white breads and pastas for whole wheat options. The fiber will help minimize constipation, which can contribute to the development of varicose veins, and lower sodium levels will help reduce swelling in the body. Discontinue or reduce processed sugar products as sugar puts stress on your vascular system.
Fresh fruits like blackberries, apples, apricots and grapes are especially healthy choices. You may also want to consider taking a Vitamin E supplement to help prevent blood clots.
Check Your Wardrobe
Women are 50% more likely to develop varicose veins than men, so they must be especially cautious when it comes to clothing choices. Here are a few ways you can prevent your clothes from impacting your vein health:
Stash the high heels, except for short periods of time.
Wear flats or low heels whenever possible to stimulate your calf muscles and improve blood flow.
Buy compression hosiery to squeeze the legs and encourage blood to move more efficiently. Not only do they help to decrease discomfort and swelling, and help prevent or slow down the development of varicose veins, they also now come in tons of cute colors and patterns to match your individual style!
Avoid tight clothing, especially at the waist, groin, and legs. Skinny jeans and heels might need to be relegated to special occasions if you’re hoping to prevent varicose veins.
If you sit at a desk all day for work, get up and move regularly. If you stand while you work, shift your weight from one leg to the other. Sitting or standing too long in one position can encourage blood pooling in the legs. Flex and bend your legs regularly to keep the blood circulating.
Other Daily Habits That Prevent Varicose Veins
Sit up straight and void crossing your legs, especially for long periods of time. The National Heart and Lung Institute says that sitting at a desk or anywhere with poor posture, like leaning your head forward (as many do), increases the risk for varicose veins, and many believe that leg crossing is a risk factor for developing varicose veins.
Elevate your legs above your heart when you return home at night, or several times a day if you are more sedentary. Use a few pillows or a larger stuffed object.
And remember: not all varicose veins can be prevented, but you can certainly reduce your chances of developing new ones or making existing veins worse in appearance.