Varicose veins, spider veins, and bulging leg veins are conditions that tend to happen increasingly with age. What follows are the causes of these conditions and 8 methods for alleviating their symptoms and improving vein health.
Causes of Visible Veins
Varicose Veins are twisted veins close to the skin surface that generally appear in the legs. This is because the pressure on veins in the lower part of your body increases when you stand or walk. They are often purplish or greenish because of blood pooling in the weakened vessels:
- Varicose veins are sometimes superficial – they may be unsightly but are painless and not dangerous.
- However, other varicose veins can pose a health risk – such as skin ulcers, blood clots, and bleeding – and they might also be uncomfortable or itchy.
- Your medical doctor or vein specialist can provide insight into how benign your varicose veins are currently.
Spider veins are the smallest type of varicose veins.
Just like varicose veins, spider veins are dilated blood vessels with weaker valves.
Bulging leg veins are not always a result of weakened vessels but sometimes just the visual result of a mature person who exercises regularly and maintains a lower percentage of body fat. Without an ample layer of subcutaneous fat that might otherwise sit right under the skin, the veins become more visible.
Again, a qualified doctor can usually help you identify whether a bulging vein is simply enlarged, or, might be varicose or problematic.
Potential Remedies for Bulging Leg Veins and Varicose Veins
Let’s go over some of the methods that might reduce the severity of your bulging leg veins or varicose veins.
1. Increase Your Level of Physical Activity
Sitting or standing for long periods of time can put undue pressure on leg veins and worsen symptoms.
A sedentary job may increase your risk of developing bulging leg veins – so can playing computer video games, watching television for long periods, and numbed-out scrolling and swiping on smartphones.
Avoid this risk factor by getting up and moving around as often as you can. There are several ways you can do this:
- If you’re sitting down, try to stand up every 20 minutes and stretch your legs.
- If you’re standing up, keep your knees slightly soft and shift your weight from one foot to the other every 10 minutes.
- Take walking breaks whenever possible and walk around for at least 10 minutes during each break.
- If you’re at a desk, try doing calf exercises as you sit.
2. Wear Compression Socks or Compression Leggings
Compression wear has come a long way in recent years. In your grandparent’s day, ugly beige compression socks were the only choice – but today’s compression wear comes in all types, textures, and colors.
The idea behind compression wear is fundamental: specialized fabric applies pressure on the surface of particular parts of the body to compress and support underlying tissue. The hope is that this increases the body’s blood circulation and eases vein swelling.
3. Reduce Your Overall Percentage of Body Fat
Being overweight or obese can cause symptoms of varicose veins, bulging leg veins, and spider veins. Excess body weight places extra pressure on the veins in your lower body.
Consistently strive to reduce your overall percentage of body fat since the risk of having varicose veins is higher in people who are overweight or obese.
If you’re not sure whether you’re overweight, you can use an online Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator to determine your BMI based on your height and weight. A BMI above 25 is considered “overweight” and a BMI above 30 is classified as “obese.”
4. Take Horse Chestnut Seed Extract for Varicose Veins and Bulging Leg Veins
Horse Chestnut seed extract is thought to assist in the maintenance of healthy peripheral circulation in the body while supporting and maintaining healthy tissue fluid levels (including in the legs).
For example, Standard Process is a company that makes a capsule called Vascular Care Complex that is formulated with steroidal saponins (such as escin), flavonoids, lipids, sterols, terpene lactones (including ginkgo), and other phytochemicals – like butcher’s broom and rhizome. This formula is designed to assist in vein health.
5. Do Inversion Poses
Modern life presents certain disadvantages. From an ancestral perspective, our human bodies were probably not designed to stand and sit for such long periods. If you are experiencing varicose veins, try elevating your legs above your hips for short periods (from 3 to 20 minutes, depending on your current state of mobility and fitness):
- While lying down, place pillows under your feet to raise them above heart level so that gravity can help with circulation.
- Try “Legs Up the Wall” pose. Remove your shoes and lay on your side in the shape of an embryo, scooting your hips all the way to the wall. Then, gradually roll onto your back and place your stocking feet up on the wall. To deepen this stretch, place a shallow pillow underneath your hips.
- Do a yoga handstand against a wall.
- Use an inversion table to hang upside down (be certain someone is home with you as a safety precaution).
These inverted postures help ease the body by preventing blood pooling in the lower extremities and allowing blood to more easily flow back to the heart.
6. Take Diosmin for Varicose Veins and Spider Veins
Diosmin is a nutritional supplement, available most often in a capsule formulated with hesperidin, that is made from the extract of citrus foods and is purported to support blood flow in the body. It’s sometimes taken by those wishing to reduce symptoms of hemorrhoids or bulging varicose leg veins. However, some people have a negative sensitivity to Disomin so it is not for everyone.
7. Stop Crossing Your Legs
Crossing your legs can put undue pressure on your veins. Try not to cross your legs while sitting. Or, if you like to sit cross-legged like a yogi, place child pillows (you can find these in home-supply stores) in between (where one leg would touch the other), and this will reduce direct pressure.
8. Adopt an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
An anti-inflammatory diet is a lifestyle change in which you remove the foods that your body finds subtly irritating and eat only the foods that your body finds unquestionably empowering. Usually, this means a diet of mostly vegetables and quality meats.
Silver & Strong is a course I designed to help you successfully adopt an anti-inflammatory diet – which can be a true game-changer.
The program is detailed, but still requires you to do most of the work yourself – counting calories, tracking macros, choosing menu items, etc. (The coursebook gives you ideas, tools, and a specific sequence, but it doesn’t do all the work for you.)
The course also comes with a bonus pdf workbook of strength-training workouts (described in detail with photos), and access to the membership site with additional HIIT workouts – including exercise ideas, motivation, tips, and videos.
Other Factors Contributing to Visible Veins
Genetics and age are factors that can work against your leg veins since these factors cannot be controlled.
Your family history plays an important role in determining if you will develop bulging leg veins or varicose veins.
If your parents ever had this condition, it may contribute to the risk of you having it as well.
Older age is one of the main risk factors for varicose veins. Typically, people are considered at a higher risk of developing these symptoms if they’re over 60, but it’s possible to develop them earlier.
Veins have valves that prevent blood from flowing backward. As we age, these valves can be negatively affected due to a range of factors.
Tobacco Use and Varicose Veins
Tobacco use can increase the risk of developing varicose veins, so if you’re a smoker or chewer, you may want to consider quitting.
Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide:
- Carbon monoxide doesn’t allow your blood to carry oxygen and other nutrients as well as it would otherwise.
- Carbon monoxide also contributes to a hardening of the arteries, which forces your heart to work harder in order to move blood through them.
- This extra work can expand the size of your left ventricle, making it less efficient at pumping blood.
- With a weakened circulatory system, there’s an increased risk that pressure in your leg veins will be too high and cause bulging or twisting.
Try cutting back on cigarettes (or chewing tobacco), it could help keep your heart healthy and reduce your risk for varicose veins.
Leg Injury or Trauma
Leg injuries can also cause long-term problems for leg veins. If you experience a deep cut or severe bruise, it’s important to see your family doctor immediately. He or she may prescribe anticoagulants to prevent blood clots from forming in the area of the injury.
When Should I Worry about Bulging Leg Veins?
For the most part, bulging leg veins are harmless. They may cause discomfort; they may be unsightly. But, in general, you shouldn’t worry about them unless they:
- Cause pain or heaviness in your legs.
- Are accompanied by a swollen leg.
What Happens If Varicose Veins Are Left Untreated?
Although varicose veins are usually not dangerous, leaving them untreated can lead to a variety of problems, some of which can have serious concerns regarding one’s health.
In cases where varicose veins are severe, this may be an indication of a condition called chronic venous insufficiency. This condition affects the ability of your veins to pump blood into your heart.
People who have varicose veins are at more risk of developing blood clots.
Can Walking Reduce Varicose Veins?
A lifestyle of good nutrition and physical activity can help prevent the development of varicose veins. If you already have them, regular exercise helps keep blood flowing smoothly throughout your legs.
How Much Walking is Needed?
Doctors recommend a daily walk for around 30-45 minutes.
Surgical Solutions for Visible Veins
There are surgical options for bulging and varicose veins. Usually, the veins are “stripped” (removed). However, if it’s just a small patch of spider veins close to the skin’s surface then a simple shot – in which a salt solution is injected – can make them disappear.
Leg Elevation for Bulging Leg Veins and Varicose Veins – https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/blood-heart-circulation/varicose-veins/treatments/elevation-legs.html
Exercises to Help Mitigate Varicose Veins – https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/best-exercises-varicose-veins
Horse Chestnut and Vein Health – https://examine.com/supplements/horse-chestnut/