Varicose veins are generally caused by pressure in the veins that, over time, weakens the vessel walls. For most people, varicose veins and spider veins (their smaller, capillary-based cousins) are merely unsightly nuisances, but they can also make walking and standing extremely painful, and in extreme cases, they can cause skin ulcers. While there is no sure way to prevent the formation of varicose veins, there are a number of things you can do to get rid of them.
Lifestyle Changes for Varicose Veins
Maintain a balanced diet. A balanced diet with plenty of fresh food can keep your salt levels down and your fiber levels high, thereby stabilizing your blood pressure and putting less press on your veins.
- A low-salt diet will minimize the amount of swelling in your legs connected to water retention.
- Antioxidants are also thought to help build strong, healthy veins.
Maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight will put undue pressure on your legs and circulatory system. Reducing weight will reduce the risks of varicose veins in many instances. Develop healthy eating habits and avoid foods with high calorie and low nutrition content.
- Through healthier eating and regular movement, you’ll help to reduce your varicose vein risk.
- Be aware that some people are more prone to developing varicose veins than others, regardless of weight. In this case, it is still important to stay fit and healthy but you may need to speak with your doctor about other ways to reduce the risk.
Exercise regularly. Including moderate exercise into your daily routing can improve both the circulation and muscle tone in your legs. Walking and jogging improve circulation in the legs, and proper circulation helps ward off the development and worsening of varicose veins. Exercise also reduces overall high blood pressure and strengthens your entire circulatory system.
- Even something as small as a 30-minute walk around your neighborhood can greatly improve your overall circulation, especially the circulation in your legs.
- Focus your efforts on cardiovascular exercises, which focus on getting the blood pumping throughout your body, and strength training exercises that target the legs in order to build and tone muscle mass there.
Avoid taking high-estrogen birth control pills. Long-term use of high-estrogen birth control pills has been shown to increase the risk of varicose veins by altering circulatory valve functioning. If you require birth control for an extended period of time, ask your health care provider about other options.
Quit smoking and limit your alcohol consumption. Both tobacco and alcohol can influence your blood pressure negatively, so cutting them out of your life or reducing their presence can help you get reduce your varicose veins, as well.
- Alcohol can cause your blood vessels to dilate, which, in turn, can aggravate varicose veins. An occasional drink may not hurt, but frequent drinking will.
- Smoking has a direct connection to blood pressure, and cutting smoking out completely is important if you plan to be rid of your varicose veins.
Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and to limit spider veins on the face.
Redesign your wardrobe. Improve circulation to your lower body by avoiding tight-fitting clothes on your legs and around your waist. Prefer softer, less clinging clothing, such as yoga pants and track pants. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes instead of high heels, and make sure your shoes are properly fitted.
Slip into spandex pants. Like nonprescription, store-bought support hose, pants made from this elastic material apply pressure to the legs and may help somewhat. Be sure, however, that they aren’t so tight in the groin or waist that they cut into your skin and limit circulation.
Home Remedies for Varicose Veins
Wear compression hose. These stockings put helpful, therapeutic pressure on the veins of your legs, easing the pain and temporarily keeping your varicose veins in check.
- Support pantyhose can offer basic relief for small varicose veins and can usually be found in drugstores and department stores. They offer limited pressure and are not gradient in nature, so the pressure they do apply is over the entire leg instead of a focus area.
- Over-the-counter gradient compression hose are a much better option if you have moderate varicose veins. They can be found in drugstores and medical supply stores, and they apply more focused pressure on specific areas of the leg.
- Prescription gradient compression hose might be needed for more severe varicose veins. They offer the greatest amount of targeted pressure, but you must need to be fitted for them by someone with professional training.
Look for supplements containing horse chestnut. Horse chestnut is an herbal extract with properties commonly believed to reduce the pain and size of varicose veins by a considerable amount.
- Some preliminary studies suggest that horse chestnut can be as effective at reducing swelling as compression stockings are.
- The extract actually treats chronic venous insufficiency, a condition causing varicose veins. With this condition, the veins in the leg cannot return blood to the heart correctly.
Consider over-the-counter creams. Several health and beauty creams claim to have ingredients that promote better circulation, and applying them to your varicose veins may reduce the appearance of those veins.
- Such creams usually contain ingredients like vitamin E and calendula extract, which is thought to be an anti-inflammatory agent.
- Note, however, that even if the cream successfully minimizes the varicose vein, it will still remain under the surface of your skin. This will not “get rid of” it, but it may lessen the problem.
Try applying apple cider vinegar. While there is little scientific proof that this works, it remains a common folk remedy. The topical application of apple cider vinegar is thought to reduce the size of varicose veins.
- Soak a small cloth or cotton pad in a little bit of apple cider vinegar. Rub the vinegar over the varicose veins or wrap the cloth around your leg. Let it sit there for 30 minutes to maximize the effect.
Medical Treatments for Varicose Veins
Find out about sclerotherapy. This is a type of injection that causes the varicose vein to close and fade from sight.
- During the procedure, your doctor will use a needle to inject a special chemical into the vein which will cause the vein walls t o swell, stick, and ultimately shut. Blood flow stops completely and the vein eventually turns into a scar and fades from sight.
- No anesthesia is needed, but you may need multiple treatments for the same vein. Treatments are performed every four to six weeks.
- Another form of this therapy called microsclerotherapy may be used for spider veins or other small varicose veins.
Learn about endovenous thermal ablation. For this treatment, lasers or radio waves are used to damage the vein with powerful heat. That varicose vein then scars shut and fades from view.
- Deeper varicose veins called saphenous veins are usually treated with this method.
- Your doctor will insert a catheter, or small tube, into the problem vein through which a small prope is inserted. The laser or radio waves are transmitted through the tip of this probe, closing off the vein.
- Healthy veins around the closed vein take over the flow of blood. Varicose veins on the surface that are connected to the treated vein usually close up shortly after treatment, as well.
Check into surface laser treatments. Laser therapy is usually used on smaller veins. A strong laser light is directed at the varicose vein in short bursts, eventually causing it to disappear.
- Laser treatments can last for 15 to 20 minutes, and you may need two to five treatments before you get rid of the varicose veins.
- No chemicals or incisions are made, but the laser can be painful nonetheless.
- The treatment is not generally effective for varicose veins larger than 1/10 inch (3 mm).
Ask your doctor about vein ligation and stripping. During this procedure, varicose veins are tied closed and removed from the leg through small incisions in the skin.
- This treatment was more common in the past but is generally only used nowadays for patients who cannot undergo endovenous thermal ablation.
- You will receive anesthesia during this treatment, and the treatment will be performed in an operating room.
- After the veins are removed, deeper veins will usually take over for the veins that are now missing, so blood flow should not be affected.
Try ambulatory phlebectomy. For this treatment, small incisions are made to remove small problem veins close to the surface of the skin.
- Small hooks are inserted through small incisions in the skin. The vein is pulled out through these incisions.
- Your leg will be treated with anesthesia, but you will not be put to sleep for the treatment.
Consider PIN stripping. This treatment also entails the removal of problem veins, but in this instance, the veins are removed via an instrument called a PIN stripper.
- The doctor sews the tip of the PIN stripper to the end of the vein. While removing the PIN stripper, the vein is removed, as well.
- This procedure can be performed with general or local anesthesia, and it will either be done in an operating room or outpatient center.
Think about endoscopic vein surgery. In this treatment, an endoscope in inserted into the vein and used to close the vein from inside.
- This treatment is generally only used for varicose veins causing skin ulcers.
- The doctor will make a small cut in the skin near a varicose vein. The endoscope, a tiny camera attached to the end of a thin tube, is inserted into the vein and pushed through. A device on the end of the tube seals the vein shut.
How to Prevent Varicose Veins
Avoid prolonged standing. Standing in one place for a long time increases venous pressure in the legs and feet. Over time, this pressure weakens the blood vessel walls. Since prolonged standing is almost unavoidable in some jobs, mitigate the harm by shifting your position as frequently as possible, and try to walk around at least every 30 minutes. If your job can be performed while sitting, see if you can arrange that. In some cases, a high stool or chair can be used to keep you at the height needed to deal with customers or activities, rather than standing.
Avoid sitting for long periods of time. Keeping your legs in the same position for an extended length of time reduces circulation. By contrast, changing your position or moving your legs around will maintain good circulation. Change your position every 30 minutes or so. Take a walk around the office or, if this is not possible, stand up and stretch before shifting the position you are sitting or standing in.
Sit properly. Sit up straight and don’t cross your legs. Good posture improves circulation, while crossed legs restrict blood flow to and from the legs.
Check your seat. The same can happen if you sit in a chair with a seat that is too deep for your leg length: The front edge of the chair digs into the back of your knees, compressing blood vessels and restricting blood flow. Get a chair that fits your body better, or, if that’s not possible, scoot your backside away from the chairs back until the pressure on your legs is relieved.
Keep your legs uncrossed. Keeping your legs uncrossed can also reduce the amount of possible pressure on your veins. Aside from not crossing your legs, you should also avoid crossing your ankles.
Put your feet up for a while. Especially if you have to stand up for long periods, take time to relax your legs and improve circulation by elevating your legs and feet for several minutes throughout the day or when you finish your shift. Taking pressure off the legs and letting gravity act on your body a little differently from time to time will help prevent blood from pooling in the veins.
Elevate your legs as you sleep. Keeping your legs elevated as you lie down can be just as important as elevating them as you sit. Try sleeping on your back with your legs resting on three or four layers of pillows.
Place your feet on a stool or another chair, when possible, to improve the circulation in your legs. When you can do so, it is also recommended that you try occasionally lifting your legs so that your feet are above the height of your heart.
- Beware expensive, unconventional therapies. While most such “treatments” are harmless, they are also usually ineffective. The same can be said of herbal supplements that claim to cure varicose veins. Some supplements may indeed help prevent or treat the problem, but the jury is still out, and many companies make unsubstantiated claims. Always check with your doctor before using an herbal supplement. Physicians may not be able to confirm or refute an herbalist’s claims, but they should be able to discuss potentially harmful side effects of certain herbal preparations.
- It is not advisable to try and “break up” a varicose vein with any form of manual therapy, such as massage or vibration. This can cause an embolus, which can, in turn, get lodged in the capillaries of the heart and cause a heart attack, the brain and cause a stroke, or the lungs and cause a respiratory infarction. All of which can lead to death.
- See your doctor immediately if a varicose vein begins bleeding, if you experience sudden pain or swelling in your legs or feet, or if you notice a lump developing in or near a varicose vein.
- While varicose veins are generally not a serious health concern, they can indicate potentially more harmful conditions. If you see varicose veins developing, take the opportunity to get a full medical checkup and discuss your health with your physician.
- Try to keep legs higher then your heart. Also apply almond oil to help blood flow.
- Icing where the varicose is usually works or a hot rag to relax the muscles and pain in your feet! Smiles!
- Varicose veins are more common in women, but they affect a large number of men, as well. The older you are, the more likely you are to develop varicose veins, but they can form at any age, and heredity may be a factor in their formation.
- Velcro compression garments with the use of anklets are even easier to put on and may be a better option for some individuals.