What are Varicose Veins? Can I Prevent Them?

September 5, 2017 • jake • Blog

Varicose veins are incredibly common and it can be difficult to avoid them as we live, and age. You may not be able to prevent varicose veins entirely, depending upon your individual risk factors. Certain factors are beyond your control. There are, however, are some healthy lifestyle habits that can help you avoid developing, or minimize, varicose veins.

Defining Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are malfunctioning veins that allow blood to “back up” and pool in the vein. This is what causes the discoloration and the bulging aspect of these veins. Your veins, ideally, should send deoxygenated blood back to your heart and lungs to absorb nutrients and oxygen again. Then, the life-giving blood should re-circulates throughout your body, bringing its nutrients to your cells–so they can become energized, grow, multiply and remain healthy.

In many cases, veins fail to send the blood back to your core as they should. The following reasons account for failing, varicose veins:

  • Heredity: If close relatives have varicose veins or other vein disease, you may be predisposed to developing them.
  • Aging: Over time, the valves within your veins, which should help move blood up to your heart, begin to fail or leak. This allows reflux, where your blood can leak back downward and accumulate in the veins (of lower legs, most commonly). Veins bulge, become damaged and change color in response.
  • Lack of exercise: Strong muscles are needed to help blood make its way back up to your heart, by applying pressure to help fight gravity. 
  • Hormonal changes: More women have varicose veins, partly because they have more hormonal fluctuation throughout their lives. Men, of course, go through puberty and hormonal changes as they age, but not to the degree that women do. (Men may also have thicker skin and more muscle tissue, which help minimize varicose veins or hide them somewhat.)
  • Medication: Birth control pills and menopausal hormone replacement are somewhat voluntary manipulations of hormone levels, and they account for some varicose veins. Other medications may also make varicose veins more likely as a side effect. You and your doctor should make sure that the benefit of any medication you take outweighs the risks. 
  • Work requirements: If you’re on your feet all day, constant pressure on your leg veins can make varicose veins likely. When possible, take time to sit now and then, and wear supportive stockings and shoes. If you normally stand in one spot all day or sit behind a desk, be sure to vary your routine with periods of standing and walking. Any position, held for a significant period of time, can contribute to circulatory problems.
  • Diet: Extra body weight also adds pressure, making it more difficult for your veins to function properly. Eating healthy (and exercising) improve overall health, aid circulation and keep your body weight in line.
  • Clothing: Yes, even what you wear can affect your likelihood of developing vein disease. Avoid tight clothing and shoes. Especially important is keeping the waist, pelvic and thigh area comfortably roomy, to allow proper blood flow between your upper and lower body.
  • And more.

Learn Your Best Varicose Vein Treatment Options from Your Vein Doctor in Missoula

If you control the above factors (those that you can control), you can minimize the development of varicose veins. To banish them from your life completely, visit your vascular surgeon at Bellamah Vein Center in Missoula, Montana. We offer many minimally invasive vein treatment options. Contact us today.

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