The blue and purple, twisted, engorged veins known as varicose veins are broken veins. Healthy veins have valves that push the blood forward, back toward your heart, where it gets oxygenated before it flows back through your arteries to nourish your organs.
When you’re among the approximately 20% of adults in the United States who have varicose veins, however, those valves don’t function well anymore. Instead of pushing your blood forward and preventing backflow, the weakened valves permit blood to stagnate or even flow backwards, collecting behind the valve. As the blood builds up, the vein bulges and twists.
Jeffrey Gosin, MD, founder of Shore Vascular and Vein Center in Somers Point, New Jersey, is a vein expert who treats and removes varicose veins and other dysfunctional blood vessels, including spider veins. If your bulging veins ache and throb, here’s what you can do.
Wear compression stockings
Compression stockings or socks put pressure on your bulging veins to help the blood flow forward and upward instead of pooling behind your broken valves. You may find that the pressure alleviates the pain and ache in your legs. You can wear compression stockings under your normal clothing.
Lose weight and exercise more
Excess weight puts pressure on your blood vessels, raising the risk for varicose veins. If you lose weight, you take some of the pressure off your veins so they can function more easily.
Exercise also increases your circulation and helps you stay healthier overall. If you need help losing weight, we can recommend a customized diet plan or refer you to a weight loss specialist.
Don’t sit or stand for too long
Maintaining the same position for long periods of time puts stress on your veins. If you’re on your feet all day for your job, be sure to take sitting and stretching breaks.
Conversely, if you have a desk job, be sure to take a break about every half hour. Stand, stretch, and — ideally — walk around. Varying your positions and movements helps your blood flow and keep your veins healthy.
Dress for your veins
Tight compression stockings aid blood flow in your legs. However, tight clothing can inhibit blood flow and worsen the pain of varicose veins. Avoid tight jeans or other clothing that cinches you around your waist, hips, abdomen, or thighs.
Watch your footwear, too: High heels and pointy shoes can slow down blood flow and tire your legs. Choose flat shoes with a wide toe box and arch supports. Adding customized orthotics or over-the-counter inserts can help absorb shocks while you walk, keeping your legs more comfortable.
Put your legs up
Another way to vary your leg position and to keep pressure off your varicose veins is to elevate your feet and legs from time to time. Sit with your feet on a foot stool. After a long day’s work, put your feet up by propping them up on a table or pillows, or against the wall when you lie on your back on the floor.
Keep your legs elevated for about 15 minutes. When your legs are raised, your blood flows more easily to your heart, alleviating leg pain and swelling.
Remove malfunctioning veins
While you may be wary of removing blood vessels, varicose veins and other broken blood vessels aren’t aiding your circulation. In fact, they’re hindering it. Once you remove the broken blood vessels, your body immediately redirects blood flow to healthy veins. Dr. Gosin removes or seals broken varicose veins with:
- Radiofrequency ablation