While you may have heard the term "varicose veins" before, you may not be aware that it refers to a common medical condition that affects approximately 40% of the United States population. Risk factors for varicose veins include heredity, prior leg trauma, and prolonged sitting or standing, especially in the work place. Women who have experienced at least one pregnancy are also at greater risk.

What are Varicose Veins?

The condition is caused by a disease process called Chronic Venous Insufficiency, which causes blood to pool in the legs instead of returning to the heart. As blood pools, it causes the veins in the leg to stretch out, leading to visible bulges in the skin. While many who are affected do not like the look of their varicose veins, the condition is more than simply cosmetic; it can cause symptoms such as:

  • Cramping
  • Restlessness
  • Ankle swelling
  • Greater susceptibility to bruising
  • Skin darkening or hardening
  • Fatigue or heaviness in the legs
  • Aching or throbbing

Steps to Take to Slow Varicose Veins Formation

While the condition is treatable, there are steps that you can take now to slow varicose vein formation.

1. Wear Comfortable, Loose-fitting Clothing

Wearing a tight compression stocking is the first approach to combating varicose veins and their symptoms. The steady tightness of compression garments squeezes the leg which helps the veins and muscles return blood more efficiently and allows for some relief of symptoms. The amount of compression varies from types that can be found in a drug store up to prescription grade strength.

2. Self-Care

In order to help prevent varicose veins from forming or worsening, prolonged sitting or standing should be avoided. Changing positions such as incorporating leg elevation, walking, or resting throughout the day is important. Exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy body weight is central in promoting good venous and overall health. Symptoms Can Go Unnoticed While bulging of veins in the legs is a classic symptom, it is not always present with venous insufficiency, and the other symptoms may be more subtle. If you suspect you may be developing varicose veins, contact The Vein Institute for a free vein screening.