9 Simple Ways To Prevent Varicose Veins

By Daniel Friedmann, MD September 15, 2014 6 Comments

leg veins

Nearly half of all Americans will develop some form of varicose veins within their lifetime. Aside from being cosmetically unappealing, varicose veins (and their smaller, more superficial, capillary-based cousins – spider veins) can make common everyday activities like walking and standing painful. In more severe cases, varicose veins can even lead to skin ulcers.

While there is no way to guarantee prevention of varicose veins, there are things you can do to lower your risk of varicose vein development.

1. Exercise Regularly

Regular walking or running can improve blood circulation of the legs, helping to ward off vein dysfunction. Thirty minutes of daily exercise can also reduce high blood pressure and strengthen all aspects of the circulatory system.

2. Maintain a Healthy Weight

A high correlation exists between obesity and varicose vein development. Excess weight adds pressure to the legs, increasing the work veins have to do to properly circulate blood back to the heart. As such, maintaining a healthy weight significantly reduces the risk of varicose and spider vein development. Talk to your physician about implementing healthy eating habits and regular exercise into your daily routine.

3. Elevate Your Legs

When sitting or sleeping, raising your legs above the level of your heart can enhance proper blood circulation.

4. Practice Good Posture

Studies have shown that good posture can also improve circulation. Additionally, refraining from sitting with crossed legs can help as leg crossing restricts proper blood flow.

5. Avoid Prolonged Standing or Sitting

Prolonged standing or sitting keep the calf muscles inactive and can significantly weaken the valves and walls of the blood vessels in your lower extremities over long periods of time, leading to vein dysfunction and increased venous pressure in both the legs and feet. We encourage patients to try to have a mix of standing and sitting during their day. If prolonged standing or sitting is unavoidable, such as with certain occupations, periodic shifts in position, calf exercises, and/or short walks may all be helpful.

6. Quit Smoking

One of the many consequences of smoking is high blood pressure, a contributor to varicose vein development.

7. Avoid long-term birth control pill use

Using hormonal birth control has been shown to increase the risk of varicose vein development as increased estrogen can alter the function of valves in peripheral veins. Your health care provider can suggest other long-term birth control alternatives.

8. Wardrobe changes

Avoiding clothes that are extremely tight fitting around the waist and legs can help to improve blood circulation. Opt for apparel that is soft and loose fitting. Also trading in high heels for properly fitting low-heeled or flat shoes can also help; plus your feet will thank you.

9. Compression hose

If you are noticing early vein development on your legs try wearing compression hose. Here at Westlake Dermatology we have a large variety of compression products that can help. Our experts can help you find compression hose with the right fit and compression level for your specific needs.

While the steps above can help prevent the appearance of varicose veins, stop new ones from forming, and reduce the size and painfulness of existing ones, medical treatment may be advisable if these more conservative methods fail to improve the signs and symptoms of vein disease. Effective treatments for treating existing varicose and spider veins include sclerotherapy, phlebectomy, and laser-based treatments. To learn more about treatment options contact us today!


Daniel Friedmann, MD

Daniel P. Friedmann, M.D. is a fellowship-trained, board-certified dermatologist and phlebologist at Westlake Dermatology and Clinical Research Director of the Westlake Clinical Research Center. He has presented nationally on photorejuvenation, noninvasive fat reduction, radiofrequency devices, up-to-date techniques in photodynamic therapy, the management of stretch marks, and the treatment of hand, chest, and facial veins.


6 Responses to “9 Simple Ways To Prevent Varicose Veins”

  1. David says:

    Yes! Finally something helpful regarding leg vein issues. Thanks for the post!

  2. Margret says:

    Great tips, I have some new veins developing after my pregnancy. Hopefully it’s not too late!

  3. Ken says:

    I never knew that wearing flat shoes as opposed to high heels could help prevent varicose veins, especially as you get older. My mother has been complaining to me recently that she has been experiencing some troubles with varicose veins popping up on her ankles and legs. My mother really likes wearing high heels, so I will be sure to suggest to her that she trades some of the shoes in her closet for flats.

  4. Mark says:

    I never knew that the high blood pressure in varicose veins can be from smoking!

  5. abhinavayu says:

    Thanks for sharing it!

  6. Shayla says:

    I never knew that crossing legs could lead to varicose veins, but it makes sense that this would happen since blood circulation is restricted, as you mentioned. Interesting stuff!!

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