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How to prevent varicose veins

October 4, 2023 • mdconnect • Varicose Veins

Can you prevent varicose veins, or are they an inevitability? The truth is you can keep varicose veins from happening, but it’s essential to look closely at what causes varicose veins and the strategies you can apply right now to prevent, slow, or reverse their progression.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Your veins move blood up to your heart after those blood cells have dropped off oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Because that blood doesn’t have an active force like the heart propels it with every beat, the veins depend on the leg muscles and valves to defy gravity as blood moves to the heart. Sometimes, valves stop closing properly, so gravity takes blood back down. That extra blood now pools in the lower body and needs somewhere to go. Vein walls weaken and stretch to accommodate it. This leads to varicose veins.

Preventing Varicose Veins

1. Understand Risk Factors

Knowledge is power. When you know your risk level, you can take action to reduce it. Risk factors include:
  • Genetics
  • Standing or walking for more than 4 hours regularly
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excess Weight
  • Being over 65
  • Being assigned female at birth
  • Family history
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormone birth control
  • Smoking
  • Hormone therapy
You have less control over some of these, but you can change others. The American Heart Association calls these “Modifiable Risks”.

2. Regularly Exercise

Strengthening and moving the leg muscles helps blood move up the body. Aerobic exercise is a one-two punch for improving vein health because your heart beats faster while also engaging the leg muscles. This forces blood up to accommodate the new blood.

3. Avoid Prolonged Sitting

Prolonged sitting causes the leg muscles to relax completely. If you must sit for a long time, contract and release your leg muscles several times an hour. Also, get up and walk around.

4. Avoid Prolonged Standing

Standing or walking non-stop for four or more hours means the veins are fighting against gravity without a break. The best scenario is to move to a sitting or lying position at least every couple of hours.

5. Stop Smoking

If you smoke, here’s another reason to quit. The toxins in tobacco products increase the pressure on vein walls.

6. Elevate Your Legs

If you have to stand for long periods, it’s a good idea to “put your feet up” above your heart, if possible, when possible. When you’re ready for bed, lie down with pillows under your calves.

7. Losing Weight

Excess weight (whether muscle or fat) increases the pressure on the veins. Talk with your doctor about a healthy weight for your height and body type, and try to stay close to that range.

8. Compression Stockings

Compression stockings apply pressure to the lower legs to support the veins as they do their jobs.

Preventing Varicose Veins from Worsening / Reversing Varicose Veins

If your varicose veins have already progressed, interventional vein treatment can slow or prevent progression and reverse some of the existing damage. For example, VenaSeal™ or Laser Vein Treatment (EVLT) can both seal problematic veins using different techniques. This allows the body to absorb the faulty vein and re-route blood through healthier veins. It’s vital to think about prevention first, but if your varicose veins have progressed, know that Dr. Iwamoto, Dr. Reese, & Dr. Curry at Desert Vein Institute are experts in identifying the best vein treatment options for you. Take the first step toward better vein health by requesting a consultation.

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