The colder weather can be a welcome respite for those of us who are self-conscious about spider or varicose veins.
It starts as a mild insecurity, but as the veins become more apparent, they consume more of our attention and, we believe, everyone else’s. So we hide our legs. All the time.
In time, spider and varicose veins can cause serious discomfort, too. Some varicose veins put you at risk for a complication like a blood clot or open sores on your legs. But, a minimally-invasive treatment can fade and even eliminate leg veins. It can also diminish the pain and fatigue that can accompany them and prevent complications.
As we continue our series, exploring how a board-certified dermatologist can realistically and safely diminish many of the signs of aging, I’ll be focusing the next two blog posts on visible leg veins. In this one, I’ll discuss what causes them and highlight some effective self-care treatments for preventing new veins from appearing. In the next one, I’ll describe the treatments a dermatologist can employ to get rid of them.
Why we get Varicose Veins
Spider and varicose veins are basically damaged veins. In healthy veins, tiny, one-way valves keep the blood moving in one direction, back to our heart. Spider and varicose veins develop when these valves weaken, allowing some blood to flow backward and collect in the vein.
The extra blood puts pressure on the walls of the vein. Gradually, that constant pressure will cause the vein walls to weaken or bulge, resulting in a spider or varicose vein.
Some are inherently more at risk of developing them, like those of us who have blood relatives who have them. They also become more common with pregnancy and aging. The smaller spider veins can also be caused by exposure to sunlight, hormonal changes, or an injury.
However, most develop spider or varicose veins because they sit or stand for long periods most days of the week.
What you can do about them
The treatment options range from self-care to minor surgery. A board-certified dermatologist is likely to employ more than one method. Your treatment plan should include some ways you can improve your circulation on your own, including:
- Exercising at a moderate intensity on a consistent basis
- Elevating your legs daily
- Breaking up long stretches of sitting with walking breaks every half-hour
- Breaking up long stretches of standing with sitting breaks every half-hour
- Avoiding soaking in hot baths for extended periods
Keep in mind, while the above are effective at preventing new spider and varicose veins from developing, they can’t get rid of existing ones. For that, you’ll need a dermatologist’s help.