We’ve all seen them on other people’s legs (if not our own) – teeny, tiny blue spider veins, or bulging, rope-like varicose veins. They’re the first sign that your circulatory system is struggling and needs help. Today I’ll walk you through what exactly is happening in your body to cause those sometimes painful and unsightly veins, and what you can do to treat and prevent more from forming. Even if you don’t have spider or varicose veins yet – it’s important to find out how to keep them from showing up. Because – ladies – more than 50% of all women in the USA are affected by venous insufficiency.
What are varicose veins and spider veins? Varicose and spider veins are swollen veins that usually appear on your legs. They can be blue, red or even flesh toned, and sometimes they can be raised above the skin.
How do varicose and spider veins form? Varicose and spider veins form when a vein is struggling to push blood back to the heart. If you think back to anatomy class, you’ll remember that the heart pushes oxygenated blood out of the heart through arteries, and then veins bring the blood BACK to the heart for more oxygen. Your legs and feet are below your heart, so your veins must work against gravity to push this blood back up. As we get older, gain weight, and spend more time standing or sitting for long periods of time, our veins have more trouble pushing the blood back to the heart. Blood begins to collect in the veins, which makes them swell and become apparent under the skin. For some people, this is just a cosmetic issue – something you can see on your legs that didn’t use to be there, but for other people these veins can cause throbbing pain and soreness.
Treatment & Prevention – If you are struggling with pain from your varicose veins, you should speak with a doctor or medical professional. There are a number of surgical procedures that can be done to eliminate both varicose and spider veins, but there are also some less invasive strategies.
1. Compression socks – Compression socks relieve the pressure on the veins in your legs and help push blood back up to your heart. They’re comfortable and will actually leave you feeling more energized throughout the day. You’ll find that a lot of professions that require standing for long periods of time wear compression socks all day – nurses, waitresses, chefs, sales people, and more. It's easy to integrate compression socks into your every day outfits nowadays because so many brands are offering cute styles.
2. Elevate your legs when possible. Some doctors have suggested keeping a footstool under your desk so that you can raise your feet and legs during the day while sitting.
3. Maintain a healthy weight – too much weight on your legs can cause circulatory problems.
4. Regular exercise can strengthen the leg muscles that help support your circulatory system.
For many women, varicose veins are genetic. If your mom had them, you're more than likely to have them too. So, start taking steps to prevent them today!