Ways to Avoid and Manage Varicose Veins

Ways to Avoid and Manage Varicose Veins

On an episode of Friends, the gang arrives late to Monica and Chandler’s for dinner. “I bet that vein on Monica’s forehead is popping like crazy,” says Phoebe when Monica won’t let them in. Then Rachel suggests eating leftovers instead. “You touch that, and you will be sorry!” Monica warns. “Guys, I’d listen to her,” says Chandler. “The vein is bigger than I’ve ever seen it.”

Bulging veins in comedy go back to Sid Caesar in the 1950s, but varicose veins (VVs) are a different story. They can be painful and disfiguring.

Veins carry blood back to the heart after oxygen is delivered to your cells. They accomplish this mission by using valves that open and close, keeping blood headed in the right direction. But if those valves weaken, blood can back up and pool, causing swollen, twisted veins. If you notice them on your calves or thighs, there are ways to treat varicose veins and stop them from getting worse:

  • Exercise regularly to strengthen vessel walls and move blood through your veins.
  • Don’t sit for long periods of time; elevate legs when resting.
  • Maintain a healthy weight to relieve pressure on veins.
  • Avoid tight clothes around the groin and thighs.
  • Wear compression stockings—to the right compression pressure—and put them on correctly, if prescribed.
  • Talk to your doc about routine aspirin use.
  • If VVs become painful or a clot forms, medical interventions include chemical injections (sclerotherapy); laser therapy (for small VVs); endovenous ablation (heat-sealing of veins); for severe cases, surgery.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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