All of my Valparaiso, Merrillville, Munster, and Crown Point plastic surgery patients want to have a youthful, smooth facial complexion and, to that end, they rigorously care for their skin with frequent facials and, when appropriate, Botox and dermal fillers to fight against facial aging. For most of these patients, particularly women, shaving, laser hair removal and/or waxing, as well as moisturizing, are done to maintain a youthful, smooth complexion on their legs, too. Unfortunately, as we age, fine “webs” of spider veins and/or larger (varicose) veins can appear on the legs, requiring treatment to eliminate them. Although these vein issues can be simply cosmetic in nature, sometimes they can indicate a deeper issue: circulatory problems. These problems can be genetically influenced–if either of your parents had varicose veins, it’s most likely you will also have them–but there are preventive steps you can take to lower your risk of vein problems.
Veins Are Not the Same as Arteries
The arteries move oxygenated blood from the heart and lungs to the body and the veins send the “used” blood back. Since the legs are on the lower body and the heart is located in the upper body, gravity works against us. To address this anatomical challenge, the veins have 1-way “valves” throughout their length. As the blood pumps and as you move your legs, these valves open and close to prevent blood backflow. When these valves begin to fail in their efficiency, blood begins to “pool,” which results in spider and varicose veins. As this problem worsens, the veins become visible through the skin.
How to Reduce Your Risk of Spider and Varicose Veins
Although age and family history (genetics) are out of our control, there are some things we can do to reduce the risk of developing vein problems. Here are 9 of them:
- Move Frequently: When you stand or sit for a long period of time, your legs do not pump as much as when you are moving around. If you work at a desk, or sit for other reasons for a long period, mix it up: stand up and move round every hour, at a minimum, for 5-10 minutes. Adding calf exercises and stretching will also help your veins.
- Don’t Cross Your Legs: When you are seated, maintain good posture by keeping your feet flat on the floor, as crossing your legs compromises your circulation. You’ll look more elegant, too!
- Exercise Daily: Simply walking 30 minutes a day will give you about 2,000 steps a day, every one of which will boost the circulation in your leg veins. Make it a target to get 8,000-10,000 steps a day!
- Don’t Smoke: Smoking creates circulation issues!
- Consider Alternative Birth Control Methods: Estrogen-based birth control pills have been shown to affect peripheral veins. See this government article about vein disease.
- Keep A Normal Weight: Every extra pound that you carry will make your circulatory system work harder and will add pressure to the legs, contributing to varicose and spider veins.
- Keep Your Feet Up: When you relax while reading or watching TV, of when sleeping, raise your legs above the level of your heart level to give your veins a gravity assist.
- Choose Clothing Carefully: If your clothes are tight at the waist and/or legs, it can interfere with healthy blood flow, as can high heeled shoes.
- Consider Wearing Compression Hose: These hose, which can be purchased at many retail stores, are specifically designed to assist the upward movement of blood from your feet, particularly if you already have vein problems. Ask your family physician about them, if you’re uncertain.
There are several treatments for varicose and spider veins. If you already suffer from spider veins, or if you aren’t sure whether they are spider veins or varicose veins, schedule a consultation with us. For many years, we have performed sclerotherapy for spider veins to the satisfaction of many men and women in the NW Indiana area. Call us today at 800-721-3266 for your consultation.
To your health and beauty,
Gus Galante, MD, FACS
Board Certified Northwest Indiana Plastic Surgeon