Varicose veins affect as many as half of all adults by the age of 70, creating cosmetic discomfort and sometimes physical pain. While there is nothing you can do to prevent those veins from forming, there are steps you can take to lower your risk factors for them. For those that have already seen some of these bulging veins develop, some of the same steps will also help to minimize symptoms and keep your current veins from worsening. At the top of the list is maintaining a healthy weight. How does your weight affect your veins? In many different ways!
Why Varicose Veins Form
To understand the impact of your weight on veins, it is helpful to understand what causes those swollen vessels to form in the first place. The job of the veins in the body is to carry blood back to the heart. The veins in the lower legs have a harder job than the rest of the venous system because they have to work against gravity and the body’s own weight to move blood back up the body to the heart. More weight means more pressure and strain on those lower leg veins.
Over time, these veins in the lower legs can become damaged due to the constant pressure placed on them. Small valves inside the vessels that usually keep blood moving in a single direction can wear out and allow blood to reflux back into the vein instead of moving in a straight direction to the heart. That process leads to swelling and weakening of the vessel and eventually, varicosity you can see on the outside of the leg.
Dealing with Symptoms
In addition to the visible veins that form, you might encounter other symptoms related to your varicose veins. These symptoms are due to the increased pressure inside the veins and the sluggish blood flow. Symptoms might include:
- Aching or heaviness in the legs
- Cramping or restless leg syndrome (RLS), especially at night
- Swelling in the legs, ankles and feet
- Fatigued legs by the end of the day
- Itching or burning skin
These symptoms often appear at the end of the day and may be relieved by elevating your legs for a period of time. Elevation allows blood to move more freely to the heart, which is why you can help symptoms subside with this simple action. When you are carrying more weight, these symptoms can become even more severe, but often shedding a few pounds will bring relief as well.
In addition to the symptoms listed above, fluid can build up inside the veins and seep out into surrounding tissue, causing tissue damage and skin changes. This can lead to changes in skin color as red blood cells seep into the tissue and break apart. The skin can also thicken, due to hardening of the fatty tissue just under the skin’s surface. These symptoms increase your odds of developing a severe skin sore known as a venous ulcer. Venous ulcers can become quite large and difficult to treat, so it is best to get your vein condition under control before this complication arises.
Weight and Your Veins
The problem with additional weight is twofold. First, the extra pounds put more pressure on those hard-working veins trying to push blood back up the body to the heart. The extra pressure can also exacerbate your uncomfortable symptoms.
Second, the weight gain you see on the outside of your body is only part of the equation. While you are developing that muffin top or love handles, fat is accumulating in the body as well – around your organs. This internal fat can also put stress on nearby vessels, restricting blood flow and increasing the pressure on the veins.
Another area where accumulated fat can take its toll is behind the knees. When this area becomes constricted due to fatty buildup, the veins in the lower leg have to work that much harder to push blood to the upper leg and then to the heart. The veins become compressed, and varicosity can result.
Weight or Veins? Treatment Order Tips
When you are dealing with both extra pounds and swollen veins, it can be difficult to know which problem to address first. The answer to that question will typically depend on a number of factors. You may find that dropping, at least, some of the weight will help to relieve symptoms so that you are able to exercise regularly and lose more pounds. At that point, you may decide to pursue vein treatment to eliminate the painful veins so that you can step up your weight loss efforts.
Others may discover that painful veins are interfering with their ability to adhere to any type of weight loss program. In these instances, vein treatment may be a necessary first step before you can get serious about shedding the weight.
If you are ready to say goodbye to painful varicose veins, the staff at Canada Vein Clinics can help. We offer minimally invasive treatment options that eradicate varicose veins and their uncomfortable symptoms. To learn more, contact Canada Vein Clinics today at 1-877-834-6542.