What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins usually appear as bulging, bluish cords running just beneath the surface of your skin. They almost always affect legs and feet. That’s because standing and walking upright increase the pressure in the veins of your lower body. Visible swollen and twisted veins — sometimes surrounded by patches of flooded capillaries known as spider veins — are considered superficial varicose veins.
Although they can be painful and disfiguring, they are usually harmless. When inflamed, they become tender to the touch and can hinder circulation to the point of causing swollen ankles, itchy skin, and aching in the affected limb.
Why Varicose Veins Show Up
Arteries carry oxygen-rich blood to the extremities; veins bring deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs. The muscles in your legs and feet power this return system and valves inside your veins keep blood moving in the correct direction. But if those valves give way (and some of us genetically have weaker ones), the blood pools, potentially causing veins to stretch, leak, and eventually protrude. The result: varicose veins, which appear as bulging lines on the legs.
What are the Symptoms?
Varicose veins do not always cause pain. Signs you may have varicose veins include:
- Veins that are dark purple or blue in color
- Veins that appear twisted and bulging; often like cords on your legs
Painful signs and symptoms may include:
- An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
- Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
- Itching around one or more of your veins
- Skin ulcers near the ankle, which can indicate a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention
- Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
How Can I Prevent Varicose Veins from Forming?
It is hard to say if you can completely prevent varicose veins from forming. But there are steps you can take to improve your circulation and muscle tone that can reduce your risk of developing varicose veins or getting additional ones. The same measures you can take to treat the discomfort from varicose veins at home can help prevent varicose veins. Consider the following tips to avoid developing varicose veins:
Exercise – Exercise is the number one healthy vein principle and also help control weight and keep leg muscles fit. As you exercise, blood is pumped back to the heart from the calf muscle and veins in the arch of the foot – a defined calf muscle promotes healthy blood circulation and minimizes vein disease. Ideal exercises include:
- Stationary bike and elliptical
When exercise is not an option, other measures promote healthy veins, such as:
- Rocking feet back and forth on the ground from heel to toe activating the calf pump
- Avoid high heels when possible (the position of the foot in high heeled shoes weakens the calf muscle and prevent proper circulation)
- Avoid Smoking – Smoking contributes to many health problems and is associated with “lower limb venous insufficiency,” where blood does not flow properly and pools in the legs.
Take care of your legs
- Avoid prolonged standing – standing in one place for a long time increases venous pressure in the legs and feet. Over time, the pressure weakens the blood vessel walls. If you must stand for a prolonged period, shift your position as frequently as possible.
- Sit Properly – Sit up straight and do not cross your legs. Good posture improves circulation; crossed legs may restrict blood flow to and from legs. Avoid sitting for long stretches of time by getting up every half-hour or so to stretch and walk around.
- Keep your legs elevated when possible – Putting your feet up while you relax can help reduce your risk of developing varicose veins. Try to raise your legs above your heart for 15 minutes, three to four times a day. This will help improve circulation and reduce pressure.
Wear compression stockings – If you are developing varicose veins, regularly try using compression stockings or hose. These stockings come in different compressions, and create gentle pressure up the leg which keeps blood from pooling in the veins and decreases swelling in the legs.
They can be purchased from us here at Windward Medispa and Vein Center or other medical supply stores or pharmacies. We sell a variety of compression stockings at our office, and the brand we carry is Sigvaris:registered:. Consult with your doctor or vein specialist before buying or wearing compression stockings.
Avoid tight clothing – Especially those that are constricting around the waist, groin or thighs.
Maintain healthy weight – If you are carrying extra pounds try to shed them to help improve blood flow.
Windward Medispa, our state of the art Vein Center was developed to offer an extensive collection of cutting edge treatments to aid in the betterment of venous disorders affecting the legs such as reticular, varicose, and spider veins.
All of our patients receive highly individualized yet, comprehensive care with two main objectives: the treatment method used should involve little to no pain, and it should be compatible with busy lifestyles.
If you are struggling with varicose veins, call us at (808) 797 2686 and schedule your consultation!