Finding a wrinkle or gray hair announces time passing, but finding a varicose vein may have additional meaning. Varicose veins can affect your appearance and, occasionally, your health. Like millions of others, you may wonder how to prevent varicose veins.
How Varicose Veins Happen
Varicose veins occur when blood pools in one area, usually the legs. The valves that keep blood from flowing backward toward the ground have weakened. A condition called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) may result.
Risk factors for developing CVI and varicose veins include:
- Age: Your risk increases as you get older and your tissues become less flexible.
- Overweight: Extra pounds stress the circulatory system and increase the possibility of weak valves.
- Sedentary lifestyle: Weak muscles and sluggish blood flow can affect the health of your veins.
- Pregnancy: The changes in a woman’s body that come with pregnancy can increase your risk of varicose veins.
- Genes: If your family members have varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them.
Although there are no guarantees, lifestyle changes may keep unsightly veins from developing. The lifestyle changes you need to prevent varicose veins will benefit your overall health. They are usually inexpensive. And you may look better, too. So why not get started?
Move it and Use It
When you move your body and use your muscles, you reduce your chances of developing varicose veins. Exercise improves vein health and:
- Builds strong leg muscles. Most varicose veins occur in the legs. When you use your leg muscles, they squeeze the veins, helping them stay supple and strong.
- Improves blood flow. When you sit too much, blood collects in the veins and can stretch them out. Exercise gets the blood moving.
- Lower venous blood pressure. High venous pressure in the legs may increase your chances of getting varicose veins.
Low-impact exercises are best. You should especially avoid high-impact exercises on hard surfaces. Consider these options:
Swimming and water exercise. The buoyancy of water guarantees a safe workout that won’t stress your joints or your veins. By working against water resistance, you will still get a good workout. You can swim laps, join a water aerobics class, or walk in the pool. Use water weights, noodles, and other devices to step up your workout.
Yoga and Pilates. Dancers and other athletes have used these low-impact workouts to increase strength and flexibility. Yoga and Pilates can also reduce stress and boost your mood, helping you achieve all your desired lifestyle changes. You can take classes at a gym or studio or find free workouts online.
Walking. It’s hard to say enough good things about walking. It strengthens your muscles, improves your mood, supports strong bones, benefits your heart, and burns calories. Walking is also free, and almost anyone can do it.
Strength training. You don’t have to lift heavy weights to do strength training. In fact, you don’t have to use weights at all. Many exercises, such as squats and lunges, use your own body weight. Of course, using weights is also an option, as long as you safeguard against injury. Use lighter weights and more repetitions for maximum benefit.
Rebounding. You do this trending exercise on a mini-trampoline. Rebounding provides a cardiovascular workout but also strengthens muscles and improves balance. For extra safety, buy a model with a handle.
Go for Whole Foods
Think of whole foods to keep your veins healthy. Foods in their least processed form are best for your body. They contain more fiber, which keeps your digestive system working properly. Without fiber, you may have constipation, which can put pressure on your veins. Fiber also keeps you from straining to have a bowel movement.
When you think of fiber-rich foods, you may think of salads and greens. You can get your fiber from a wide variety of foods. Try these:
- Berries: Raspberries are super high in fiber, but blackberries, strawberries, and other berries are good, too.
- Legumes: Beans, peas, and lentils are the superstars of fiber. Add them to soups and salads or use them as a side dish.
- Apples and pears: These crunchy fruits have lots of fiber, especially if you eat the peel.
- Whole grains: Oatmeal is the classic example, but branch out and try lesser-known grains like barley and quinoa. Whole-grain pasta is another good choice.
- Vegetables: Most green vegetables have a good amount of fiber, but potatoes, sweet potatoes, and squash have even more.
Maintain a Healthy Body Mass Index
If you carry extra pounds, getting rid of them is one of the best things you can do to prevent varicose veins. Being overweight increases the pressure on your veins and can cause them to bulge. Know your body mass index (BMI) and keep it in a healthy range. If you increase your activity levels and choose whole foods, you may lose weight without going on a specific diet.
Be Sure to Hydrate
Eight glasses of water a day is a standard recommendation, but it’s okay to count beverages other than water. Your activity level and your climate will affect how much you need. Plenty of water will also support your other lifestyle changes, including exercise and a healthy diet.
Sitting for extended periods can cause blood to pool in your veins. If your job requires you to be in front of a computer for long stretches, try to move around periodically. A fitness tracker can alert you when you have been sitting for too long. A small exercise bike that fits under your desk is another solution.
Digital media can also tempt you to sit for too long. Whether you watch a show or play a video game, try to break up your sessions with periods of movement.
Most people don’t spend much time standing, but you may have to stay on your feet at your job. If your job requires standing, ease the pressure on your legs as much as possible. These strategies may help:
- Keep your feet moving. Do a sidestep or march in place.
- Wear shoes that are comfortable but supportive.
- Use an anti-fatigue mat if possible.
There is a link between lifestyle and varicose veins, but you can develop them despite a healthy lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that you have wasted your efforts. You have probably improved your overall health.
If you are concerned about your varicose veins, you’ll want to know about all treatment options, including:
- Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA; brand name VenaCure EVLT). The doctor inserts a small tube tipped with a laser into the vein. The heat created by the laser collapses the vein. This procedure has a high success rate.
- Cyanoacrylate (brand name VenaSeal). The doctor closes the vein with medical-grade glue in this minimally invasive procedure.
- Endovenous Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA; brand names ClosureFast and Venclose). The doctor uses radiofrequency energy to generate heat that closes the vein. RFA is a good choice for some veins.
- Microfoam Injection (brand name Varithena). An injectable foam is used to close the vein. This procedure has some advantages because it does not involve heat.
- Endovenous Mechanochemical Ablation (MOCA; brand name: ClariVein). This procedure uses a special tool developed for larger veins.
- Phlebectomy. This is the term for the minimally-invasive removal of a vein.
A vein specialist can assess your veins and help you understand these options. Use My Vein Treatment’s locator tool to find a specialist near you. From your first visit, you’ll be better informed and more comfortable making decisions about your varicose veins.