A smooth and even complexion is a common goal for the appearance of your face; for many, these standards apply to their legs as well. Shaving, waxing and moisturizing all contribute to the appearance of the surface skin on your legs, but as you get older, fine webs of spider veins and large, blotchy varicose veins can undermine your efforts.
Often these vascular issues are simply cosmetic, but sometimes they can indicate more serious circulatory problems. While some people have a genetic predisposition for varicose and spider veins, you can take preventive steps to reduce your risk of them developing in the first place.
How veins differ from arteries
You may already know that arteries are the blood vessels that supply oxygenated blood from your heart and lungs to all points on your body and that veins direct the used blood back. When it comes to your legs, that means working against gravity much of the time because the path back to your heart goes up.
To assist this upward motion, veins have one-way valves interspersed along their length. As your blood pumps and you move your leg muscles, these valves open and close to allow the one-way travel of blood while preventing backflow.
Spider and varicose veins form when these valves start to fail, allowing backward flow and pooling of blood. When these small failures accumulate or get worse, veins become more visible through your skin.
Ways to reduce your risk of varicose and spider veins
While you can’t control age or family history — two factors that may increase your risk of developing these unsightly vein conditions — you can focus on things over which you have influence. Here are nine tips for reducing your chances of developing varicose and spider veins, and some of them might surprise you.
- Mix up your movement: Standing or sitting for long periods of time robs your legs of the additional pumping action that movement gives your vein valves, so mix standing and sitting, as well as adding calf exercises and regular stretching to break up long spells in one position.
- Uncross your legs: If you are sitting, keep up good posture with your feet flat on the floor to prevent compromised circulation.
- Walk the walk: Adding 30 minutes of walking represents an additional 2,000 steps a day, enough to boost your leg circulation. A target of 10,000 steps for an entire day provides health benefits as well as reducing vein problems.
- Pass on tobacco: Circulation issues are another risk associated with smoking.
- Minimize hormone therapy: Using a non-hormone-based alternative for birth control, such as the copper IUD, can help you avoid the effects of estrogen on peripheral veins.
- Obtain and maintain a healthy weight: Extra pounds make your circulatory system work harder and add pressure in your legs, a contributor to varicose and spider veins.
- Put your feet up: When relaxing or sleeping, raising your legs above heart level gives your veins a gravity assist.
- Choose your outfit: Clothes that are tight-fitting around your waist and legs can interfere with efficient blood flow, as can high heels, so avoid such items, unless you choose…
- Compression hose: Designed specially to assist the one-way movement of blood from your feet on up, compression socks can help reduce the risk of varicose veins or help with symptoms if you already have them.
Varicose and spider veins have several treatment approaches, so if it’s too late for prevention for you, don’t worry. The vascular specialists at Advanced Vein & Laser Center are here to help. Call or click today to request an appointment.