Get a Leg Up on Varicose and Spider Veins

Eight steps to help you say goodbye to unsightly leg veins

By Denise K.

Summer often means showing a little skin as we laze by the beach or pool (with adequate sun protection, of course), but for the 80 million Americans who have spider and varicose veins on their legs, this big reveal is not all that appealing.

Varicose veins are twisty blue, red, or flesh-colored veins that bulge and cause pain. Spider veins are smaller and tend to look like webs. Both types of leg veins can take a toll on your appearance, self-esteem, and self-confidence.

They occur when the walls of the veins (valves) grow weak. Instead of flowing through the veins to your heart, blood pools, flows backward, and puts pressure on vein walls, causing varicose or spider veins. Sunlight, hormonal ups and downs, and/or leg injuries may result in spider veins.

If you have a first-degree relative with varicose or spider veins, you are at risk too. Genetics aside, you may also develop these unsightly veins from sitting or standing for long periods, and they tend to become more common with advancing age and pregnancy too.

There is likely little you wouldn’t try to get rid of these veins for good or even just minimize their appearance and symptoms.

Get started right now, by:
Exercising regularly
Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous aerobic activity each week.

Keeping your legs elevated when you can
This prevents blood from pooling in your lower legs and boosts blood flow to the rest of your body.

Getting up and walking around every 30 minutes

Taking sitting breaks every 30 minutes if you are on your feet all day

Avoiding long, leisurely hot baths, as this can exacerbate your symptoms
The heat causes your veins to swell even more.

Going natural
Forces of Nature’s Varicose Vein Control is a treatment that packs a one-two-three punch to your varicose or spider veins. Horse chestnut tightens and shrinks veins as does witch hazel, which also boasts some anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Milk thistle is a detox herb that helps your liver better process blood, so it doesn’t cause a backlog.

Company data show that varicose veins are reduced by up to 50 percent within one month of use and that pain or discomfort also improves with such regular use.

Considering compression stockings
Compression stockings help the veins in your legs move blood more efficiently to your heart.

Talking to your doctor
Sometimes lifestyle changes are not enough. Many procedures can get rid of varicose or spider veins for good. Radiofrequency closure heats veins, causing the tissue to shrink and the vein to close up. This is considered minimally invasive which means you can hit the shores in no time.

A common treatment for spider veins, sclerotherapy involves injecting a special solution into the vein to force it to collapse and disappear. It takes time for the veins to dissipate, and more than one treatment is often required.

Some doctors are also using lasers to get rid of spider veins and small varicose veins. Results appear gradually, and larger spider veins and varicose veins may darken before they disappear. A series of three or more treatments are usually needed for optimal outcomes.

Vein stripping is a surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia in the hospital to remove the diseased saphenous vein that that runs up your leg along with its associated varicose veins. The surgery involves making incisions in the groin or leg to access the saphenous veins. Expect some downtime and a pretty long recovery period if you go this route.

Sources: American Academy of Dermatology: “Leg Veins: Why they Appear and How dermatologists treat them.” Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/younger-looking/how-dermatologists-treat-leg-veins

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