Varicose Veins and Weight
Researchers don’t know exactly why veins stretch and valves fail in some people, but they’ve found some factors that increase the risk.
Varicose Veins – Causes You Can’t Change
- Being a woman. For unknown reasons, varicose veins are slightly more common in women than in men.
- Family history. If your mother or father had varicose veins, you’re more at risk than someone without a family history of the problem.
- Age. As you grow older, the walls of your veins tend to weaken and lose flexibility.
- Pregnancy. Varicose veins can develop or worsen during pregnancy because hormone changes can weaken vein walls. And the weight of the baby can press on the large vein in the abdomen, making it harder for blood to flow back up to the heart. Also, weight gain puts extra pressure on blood vessels in the legs, making varicose veins worse or more likely. Varicose veins that appear with pregnancy usually disappear soon after the baby is born.
Varicose Veins – Causes You Can Change
- Standing. Being on your feet for long periods of time puts more pressure on the vein walls and valves, weakening them.
- Lack of exercise. The calf and thigh muscles help pump blood up the legs toward the heart, taking pressure off the veins. When you don’t exercise enough, the muscles weaken and can’t help as much, which increases the chance of varicose veins.
- Obesity. Extra weight strains the blood vessels and raises a woman’s risk of varicose veins. Obese men, though, aren’t more likely than thin men to have the condition.
Varicose Veins – Treatments
Mild varicose veins need no treatment other than for cosmetic reasons. In most cases, people with symptoms can use support hose or heavier elastic knee-high stockings to manage their condition. Frequent rest periods with leg elevation can also help with leg swelling and the feeling of heaviness in the legs. Regular exercise is also advised to improve circulation to the legs.
If symptoms are severe or a person finds the appearance of the veins unacceptable, varicose vein surgery may be an option. A variety of surgery methods are used. These include cutting the veins out, injecting the veins with chemicals to destroy or shrink them, or using lasers or radio waves to destroy shrink the veins.
Treated varicose veins usually disappear with surgery. Problems do not return in the treated veins, but may develop in other veins. Once a varicose vein is closed or removed, nearby healthy veins take over the job of carrying blood back to the heart.