Have you noticed how media outlets these days try to dictate how you should look? Telling you to be skinny? Providing you (especially at New Year!) with lots of incentives to lose weight? In this article, we’ll be less biased and pushy! But it’s good to discuss how weight affects your veins so you can make your own decisions based on facts.
So – we’ll take a close look at:
- How excess weight can lead to developing varicose veins
- Consequences of getting varicose veins
- How to prevent varicose veins getting worse, or treat them – and related questions!
How Excess Weight Can Lead to Developing Varicose Veins
Veins are in charge of carrying the blood to your heart through one-way valves. Excess weight is one of the main risk factors for developing varicose veins because it increases the pressure on your veins and damages those valves.
When the valves are not working correctly, optimum blood flow reduces. It will either flow backwards (when your valves fail) or simply pool (when your vein walls weaken) – and that’s how you get varicose veins showing up.
In past decades, researchers have proven many times that having too much extra weight affects your veins and can lead to venous deficiency.
So – before we move on to weight gain and weight loss, let’s see if those bulging veins matter medically as much as they matter to you visibly.
What Are the Consequences of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, enlarged, and dark blue/purple. You might be someone who thinks it’s only about vanity. But if you’re reading this, you’re likely someone who minds about your health and knows that varicose veins can also be uncomfortable, aching, and heavy.
The danger is this. Leaving these enlarged and inflamed veins untreated for too long can also increase your chances of developing more severe conditions such as:
- Phlebitis (superficial thrombosis) – vein inflammation near the surface of your skin
- Deep vein thrombosis – blood clots in the deeper veins of your body
- Venous insufficiency – when your veins can no longer push the blood back to the heart
- Pulmonary embolism – a blood clot stuck in the artery in your lungs
These do sound scary! But the good news is you can stop them developing.
If you start making changes as soon as you spot those bulging, visible veins under your skin, you’re on the right track.
So let’s get back to how your weight affects your veins and what you can do about it.
How to Slow the Progression and Prevent Varicose Veins
The best way to influence how weight affects your veins – and prevent further damage and new varicose veins from developing – is through activities that keep you healthy.
If you’ve experienced some weight gain, these suggestions should help you on your weight loss journey:
- Regular exercise (especially cardio) – a small amount every day is better than a couple of lengthy exercise sessions each week! And the bonus is that recent research proves “protective associations between physical activity and adverse Covid-19 outcomes” – which, in view of the most recent super-infectious strains, is good news!
- A nutritious diet, low in salt and high in fiber – there’s high salt content in nearly every food, so read the labels and be shocked.
- Always keep your blood flowing in your legs – despite the demands of your job, if necessary.
- Wear compression socks when travelling long distances with few opportunities to stop.
Will Varicose Veins Go Away After Weight Loss?
Does losing weight help with varicose veins? The answer is YES! Losing weight affects your veins in a positive way by relieving the pressure and increasing blood flow efficiency.
And will it make them go away? Unfortunately, NO.
Although shedding that extra weight benefits your venous health (and your health in general), the existing varicose veins won’t disappear. That’s because damage to the vein walls and valves is irreversible.
However, weight loss can help reduce the swelling and the appearance of any visible veins you have – even if they’re still there.
If weight loss has not improved the appearance of your varicose veins, you might like to consider other possible causes, such as:
- Family history
- Long periods of inactivity (despite having an active lifestyle)
- Hormonal imbalance, pregnancy
- History of blood clots
Your healthcare provider can discuss this with you and offer advice.
I Lost the Weight, But Now the Varicose Veins Are More Visible!
This doesn’t seem to make sense, right?
The reality is that being overweight often comes with having extra subcutaneous fat, which surrounds the varicose veins and can make them less visible. In other words, you might already have vein problems but didn’t know it!
So – gaining weight affects your veins not only by creating them but also hiding them.
After weight loss, therefore, the varicose veins will now be closer to the skin’s surface and more visible.
However, many things in life come with a silver lining. If you didn’t know you had a vein issue, discovering varicose veins this way can be life-saving! You can get them treated and then maintain your healthy weight.
How Can I Treat Varicose Veins?
You’ve lost weight and are healthier, but your varicose veins are still there.
Okay. You might start to feel it was all in vain! But although exercise and diet won’t get rid of existing varicose veins, your body will be grateful for not having to suffer further damage.
So what’s next?
The next step is having a look at the different non-surgical treatments for varicose veins. After a doctor’s evaluation and ultrasound to determine the cause of the varicose veins, you can undergo the recommended outpatient procedure to remove the vein or veins.
The following treatments are completely safe, minimally invasive, effective, with low downtime – and offer you relief and excellent long-term results:
- Endovenous Laser Ablation of the Saphenous Vein (ELAS)
- VenaSeal Closure System
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy
- Ultrasound Guided Medical Sclerotherapy
We’ve written several posts comparing the many treatments and giving you more detail if you’d like to learn more about them. The link opens in a new window. Have a read?
Step Outside With Confidence and Get Your Life Back!
Carrying extra weight affects your veins, yes, but it can also affect your mental and general physical health. So – if you love New Year resolutions, why not resolve to stay one step ahead of your veins?
You can stop those varicose veins before they become an even bigger problem. And our experienced team at Denver Vein can help advise you on how to keep within a healthy weight for you and how beautiful, healthy legs can be yours this year! What’s not to love? Let’s talk today!