There are no known methods of preventing varicose veins, but anyone at risk of developing varicose veins can take several sensible and conservative self-care steps to prevent them. These steps may slow the progression of symptoms, but do not treat the underlying cause of the disease.
Preventive measures include:
- Exercise – the more you move, the better the blood circulation in your legs. You may literally be able to walk or run away from vein disease. Check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise routine to determine the appropriate level for you.
- Keep your weight in check. Excess pounds mean excess pressure on your veins, so aim for a healthy weight. And watch what you eat, too. A low-salt, high-fiber diet can cut the swelling that results from water retention and constipation, plus it can help with weight loss.
- Go for comfort in your attire. Wear low heels instead of high heels. Not only are they vein friendly because they work calf muscles more, but they’re more comfortable overall. And nix tight clothes (like panty-leg girdles, uncomfortable footwear and tight hosiery) that cut off blood flow to your lower body.
- Pamper your legs whenever possible. Elevate your legs above heart level for short breaks several times daily to improve the blood circulation. Avoid long uninterrupted periods of standing or sitting, and forget about sitting with your legs crossed. Change your position often throughout the day to encourage blood flow, and make a point to move around at least every half-hour.
- Wear compression stockings. Often considered the first step in treating and preventing the progression of varicose veins and spider veins, compression stockings are usually required by insurance providers before moving on to other treatments. When worn all day, compression stockings help veins and leg muscles to move blood more efficiently by applying steady pressure. Medical grade stockings come in various types and brands and in a range of strengths, styles and colors to suit men and women alike. Medical grade stockings are available at most pharmacies, medical supply stores and online but may require a prescription from a physician. A proper measurement ensures the right size and fit (think strong, not tight).
- Medications to treat the discomfort of varicose veins and spider veins include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and preparations of vitamins C and E. Pentoxifylline, a medication that is prescribed to treat circulatory problems in legs and feet, is sold under the brand name Trendar. Horse chestnut extract is an alternative treatment that has been used in Europe for years to treat circulatory problems in legs.
After following these suggestions, you may still be concerned about how your varicose veins or spider veins look and how your legs feel. If your symptoms progress to include swelling, heaviness, burning or tenderness, it’s time to see your doctor for treatment options.