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FAQs About Leg Vein Disease


WILL CROSSING MY LEGS GIVE ME SPIDER VEINS AND VARICOSE VEINS?

This appears to be an “old wives’ tale.” There’s no medical evidence that intermittent crossing of the legs causes vein problems. However, sitting in any position for prolonged periods does somewhat increase your risks.

DO HIGH HEEL SHOES CAUSE VEIN DISEASE?

Although high heel shoes can look terrific, they do exacerbate vein problems because they keep your calf muscles in a contracted, abnormal position. Calf muscles need to regularly stretch and contract through their full range of motion to maintain their optimal blood-pumping efficiency. High heels are okay for brief social occasions, but not for prolonged periods.

DOES SMOKING CONTRIBUTE TO VEIN DISEASE?

Smoking and the use of nicotine products are weak risk factors for developing chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). However, it’s well established that smoking impairs circulation and can cause coronary disease, heart attacks, strokes, atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), and cancer. If you smoke, you would be wise to stop.

IF I’M OVERWEIGHT, AM I MORE LIKELY TO GET VEIN DISEASE?

Thin people are not immune from varicose and spider veins, but being overweight or obese does elevate your risk. You will usually obtain better treatment results and reduce your chance of recurrence of disease if you shed some of those excess pounds.

DOES SUNLIGHT CAUSE VEIN DISEASE?

It is unlikely that exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light—either directly from the sun or from artificial tanning lights—increases the risk of leg-vein disease. However, UV light is definitely a risk factor for facial spider veins and vascular blushing (rosacea). It is advisable for vein disease patients to avoid exposure to the sun for two to four weeks after leg-vein treatment sessions.

DOES STRENUOUS EXERCISE INCREASE MY RISK OF GETTING SPIDER AND VARICOSE VEINS?

Any strenuous exercise, such as weightlifting, that significantly increases the pressure in your abdomen, upper thighs, and groin area could potentially increase your risk of vein problems. The concern arises when pressure on your abdominal area is translated into pressure against your inferior vena cava, which is the main vein that drains blood from the lower half of your body. Pressure on this vein can increase the pressure on other leg veins.

However, because exercise is so vital for good health, you should not eliminate these types of activities. Exercise works and develops the calf muscle pump, which in turn helps to avoid leg vein problems. If you have leg vein problems, you might benefit from wearing compression hose or socks while you are exercising.

HOW DOES PREGNANCY AFFECT MY VEIN HEALTH?

Susceptibility to leg vein disease and blood clots increases substantially during pregnancy and for up to six months after delivery for the following three reasons:

As the fetus in the womb enlarges, it applies increased pressure against the inferior vena cava, the main vein that drains blood from the lower half of the body. In certain body positions, the fetus can practically block the flow of blood. Obstruction of this large vein can dramatically increase vein pressure in the lower body and legs.

The volume of blood during pregnancy increases by as much as 50 percent, putting additional stress on leg veins.

Pregnancy causes a dramatic spike in the amounts of estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones in the woman’s body. In fact, the levels of some hormones during pregnancy increase several million-fold! This causes the smooth muscle of the veins to relax, increasing both their storage capacity and their propensity to dilate (expand). This in turn increases the risk of varicose and spider veins.

The third trimester is the worst time for stress on the legs. Pain, swelling, and other symptoms will often subside or completely resolve in the weeks after delivery, so invasive treatment of spider veins and varicose veins may usually be avoided unless the problems persist.

If you have leg vein problems and become pregnant, it is advisable to wear compression hose during your pregnancy and for two weeks after delivery. They can limit the risk of blood clots, slow the progression of vein disease, and provide substantial relief from leg swelling and discomfort. Hose can be a nuisance and a discomfort, but the health benefits of wearing them are substantial.

WHAT ABOUT ANTI-INFLAMMATORY PAIN MEDICATIONS FOR RELIEF OF LEG DISEASE DISCOMFORT?

For temporary relief of leg pain and discomfort, anti-inflammatory pain medications that can be purchased off the shelf can be helpful. Ibuprofen (brand names: Motrin or Advil) seems to work especially well. Naproxen (brand name: Aleve) is a good alternative.


Call 912-267-9550 today to schedule a consultation or contact us with any questions.

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