Get Relief from Painful Varicose Veins this Summer
By Rajeev Marreddy, DO, FACC, FSCAI, RPVI
Interventional Cardiologist—Virtua Cardiology
Summertime means shedding layers and having some fun in the sun. But for people who have varicose veins, especially women, the season to wear shorts, swimsuits, and flip-flops can bring pain and embarrassment.
Varicose veins are twisted, enlarged blood vessels in the legs and feet that bulge just below the surface of the skin. They occur when faulty valves in the veins allow blood to pool or flow in the wrong direction.
Women get varicose veins more often than men. Other risk factors include being over age 50, menopause, pregnancy, obesity, family history, and having a job that requires standing for long periods.
People often are more self-conscious about varicose veins in the summertime because they can be unsightly—blue or purple, twisted, and/or engorged. They also can be extremely painful, ultimately progressing to bleeding, thrombophlebitis (an inflammatory condition), or chronic venous insufficiency (when varicose veins prevent blood from flowing back up to the heart).
Some people also experience spider veins in the affected area, as well as venous eczema (itching due to fluid build up in the area) and leg cramps.
Get a leg up on your pain this summer
Here are a few tips that can help provide relief from painful varicose veins:
- Exercise. Movement stimulates the calf muscle to act as a pump and help keep blood flowing properly. Walking is a great, easy choice.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Combining a sensible, nutritious eating plan and moderate exercise can help you achieve a healthy weight.
- Avoid standing for extended periods.
- Rest and elevate your legs. Prop your legs at a 45-degree angle above your heart for 15 to 20 minutes several times a day. This encourages blood to flow from your legs toward your heart and eases swelling.
- Eat a heart-healthy, low-sodium diet. Cut down on eating salty foods like canned soups and deli meats to reduce water retention.
- Stay hydrated. Try to drink at least a half ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 150 pounds, you should aim to drink a minimum of 75 ounces of fluids per day.
- Avoid tight or restrictive clothing.
- Wear compression stockings. Before moving on to other treatments, try wearing compression stockings all day first. Compression stockings steadily squeeze your legs, helping veins and leg muscles move blood more efficiently. The amount of compression varies by type and brand.
Treatment improves appearance and relieves pain
For many people, medical procedures can help with varicose veins and make them less noticeable. This includes:
- Laser/radiofrequency ablation: Radio waves or thermal energy seals and collapses the vein.
- Sclerotherapy: A chemical injected into the vein causes it to fade away.
- Microphlebectomy: Veins are removed through tiny incisions.
Make this your last summer with varicose veins
Varicose veins are easily treated on an outpatient basis. Talk to a vein specialist to discuss your treatment options.
To make an appointment with one of Virtua’s experienced vascular specialists, call 888-847-8823 .
Updated July 21, 2020