If you notice symptoms, try one or more of these seven tips to improve the health of your legs:
1. Change your position frequently: Moving is better than standing still. Shift your weight often, and stretch or walk around at least every 30 minutes, to keep the blood from settling in your veins.
2. Exercise regularly: Make exercise a priority when not at work. Regular exercise can strengthen your heart and improve your circulation. Walking and yoga are great ways to encourage blood circulation in your legs.
3. Watch your weight: Shedding extra pounds takes pressure off your veins. Losing just 10% of your body weight can make a difference.
4. Watch what you wear: Avoid clothing that is tight around your waist, legs and groin area. Wear low-heeled shoes instead of high heels.
5. Don’t smoke: If you do, quit. Being smoke-free is good for your veins and overall health.
6. Wear compression stockings: You can purchase compression stockings at most medical supply stores. Be sure to speak with your health care provider or pharmacist before you purchase stockings, as your legs should be measured for proper fit.
7. Elevate your legs: Before or after work, raise your legs above your heart for 15 minutes.
There are minimally invasive treatment options if your varicose veins do not respond to these tips. In the past, people with varicose veins were treated with vein stripping, a surgical procedure that produced long scars. Today’s treatment options produce good results, both cosmetic and symptomatic, with little downtime and scarring.
Radiofrequency or laser ablation uses heat or light to damage the vein and cause it to collapse and fade. Another option is sclerotherapy, which injects a solution through a small incision at in the ankle to cause the vein to collapse. After either procedure, most people can return to work the next day and see full results in two months.
For more content like this, sign up for the Pulse newsletter here.
Dr. Jared Slater is a general surgeon in Mankato and New Prague, Minnesota.