Did you know that your body weight can affect your overall vein health? That is because excess weight places additional strain on your veins, putting you at increased risk for developing vein disease.
Vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is the underlying condition that causes varicose and spider veins. Along with being obese or overweight, a range of other factors can contribute to its development.
Common risk factors for vein disease include:
- Genetics: If you have a parent or close relative with varicose veins, you are more likely to develop them. If both of your parents have varicose veins, your risk further increases.
- Age: Your risk for developing problematic veins increases as you get older. Although they can appear at any age, varicose veins are more common beyond age 50.
- Sex: Women are about four times more likely to develop varicose veins.
- Pregnancy: Pregnant women are at increased risk for vein disease due to additional blood flow and an influx of hormones.
- Prolonged sitting or standing: If you have a job where you sit or stand a lot throughout the day, you are at higher risk for developing vein disease.
- Excess weight: If you are overweight or obese, you are more likely to experience pain and discomfort from varicose veins.
- Inactivity: Being sedentary can affect your blood circulation, contribute to weight gain, and lead to problems with your veins.
- Smoking: Along with leading to a range of serious health conditions, this unhealthy habit can weaken veins and reduce blood flow.
- High blood pressure: Hypertension, or high blood pressure, places strain on your veins and can lead to varicose veins.
Can losing weight help varicose veins? What causes varicose veins, anyway? To answer these and all of your vein-related questions, we recommend visiting a vein specialist to assess your situation.
Below, we discuss some generalities on how weight affects veins. We also recommend a variety of ways to help alleviate your vein pain and discomfort.
How Weight Affects Veins
Vein disease develops when tiny, one-way valves in your veins malfunction. This usually occurs when veins are placed under excess strain over time. As a result, stressed and damaged vein valves cannot efficiently circulate blood back to your heart. Instead, blood flows the wrong way and starts to pool in certain regions of your body. The most commonly affected regions are your legs, ankles, and feet.
Venous insufficiency can lead to spider veins, varicose veins, and painful or uncomfortable varicose vein symptoms, such as:
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Tired, aching legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that feels better when you walk or raise your legs
- Itchy, dry skin
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Difficulty standing for long periods
- Non-healing wounds on your legs
Unfortunately, carrying around excess weight means a greater likelihood that you will experience these venous issues. If you suffer from any of the above, we recommend visiting a vein specialist. The good news is that there’s help available that can alleviate your pain and discomfort.
Can Weight Loss Help Varicose Veins?
Although losing weight can help reduce painful or uncomfortable vein symptoms, it can’t fix vein valves that are already damaged. That doesn’t mean weight loss won’t benefit your vein health –– because it certainly will! Along with potentially providing symptomatic relief, losing excess weight can help reduce your risks of developing additional venous issues.
If you do drop some excess pounds, you may notice visible bulging veins after weight loss. This is because fat can sometimes hide enlarged veins underneath. You may also find that symptoms from varicose veins after weight loss may continue to negatively impact your daily life. Fortunately, there are many ways to take action.
To improve your situation, we recommend that you:
- Exercise daily: When you get moving, your heart pumps faster, and your blood circulates more efficiently.
- Avoid prolonged standing or sitting: We suggest taking short, frequent breaks throughout the day to move around. If stuck in one place, try to regularly stretch and massage your legs, ankles, and feet.
- Eat a healthy diet: Be sure to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Avoid or limit added sugars, sodium, and alcohol.
- Stop smoking: If you need help quitting, ask your doctor about smoking cessation programs.
- Manage underlying health conditions: When you control high blood pressure, diabetes, and other chronic health conditions, you can alleviate strain on your veins.
Unfortunately, lifestyle modifications like these aren’t usually enough to resolve varicose veins that have already formed. Vein disease is usually progressive, meaning that it gets worse over time. Fortunately, treatment is available right now that can dramatically improve your quality of life.
If you are avoiding the doctor because you fear vein surgery, we want you to know that there are other, better options. Minimally-invasive, office-based vein treatments exist that aim to divert blood flow from malfunctioning veins to healthy ones. Following treatment, targeted veins shrink and are reabsorbed by your body, resulting in improved or eliminated vein symptoms.
Minimally-invasive Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
At USA Vein Clinics, we offer a range of minimally-invasive, outpatient vein treatments at 90 clinic locations nationwide. We encourage you to consult with one of our top-rated specialists to determine which treatment is best for you. Keep in mind that some patients require multiple treatments or therapies to resolve their vein issues.
We offer the following treatment options:
- Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT)
- Varithena Vein Treatment
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy (UGSC)
- Visual Sclerotherapy
If you are thinking about seeking treatment, we advise you to come in sooner rather than later. When left untreated, varicose veins can put you at risk for dangerous health conditions like blood clots and venous ulcers (open, non-healing wounds). In other words, the sooner you receive treatment, the better your health outcome will be.
You may be surprised to learn how quick, easy, and convenient it is to receive treatment. Most of our methods take only 15 to 30 minutes. You can leave immediately afterward and return to most normal activities.
We care about your vein health. To get started, simply schedule an appointment online for an in-person or virtual consultation. We look forward to meeting you and helping you to take back control of your life!
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