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Can Unsightly Veins be Prevented? - Wednesday, January 15, 2014

You probably donít think much about vein problems unless you have them, but a little knowledge may help you take steps to minimize your chances of getting them.

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be flesh colored, dark purple or blue. They often look like cords and appear twisted and bulging. They are swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are commonly found on the backs of the calves or on the inside of the leg. Symptoms can include mild swelling in the ankle area, as well as fullness, heaviness, aching and sometimes pain in the legs.

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller and are usually not painful. They are often red or blue and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like tree branches or spider webs with their short jagged lines. Spider veins can be found on the legs and face. They can cover a very small or very large area of skin.

The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to the whole body. Arteries carry blood from the heart towards the body parts. Veins carry oxygen-poor blood from the body back to the heart.

According to local Dr. Carl Fastabend of the Vein Center of Southwest Louisiana, the squeezing of leg muscles pumps blood back to the heart from the lower body. Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. These valves prevent the blood from flowing backwards as it moves up the legs.

"If the one-way valves become weak, blood can leak back into the vein and collect there. This problem is called venous insufficiency,Ē says Dr. Fastabend. "Pooled blood enlarges the vein and it becomes varicose. Spider veins can also be caused by the backup of blood. Hormone changes, inherited factors and exposure to the sun can also cause spider veins.Ē

Unfortunately, not all varicose and spider veins can be prevented. But some things can reduce your chances of getting new varicose and spider veins. Dr. Fastabend suggests the following tips to help ease discomfort from the ones you already have.

  • Wear sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun and to limit spider veins on the face.
  • Exercise regularly to improve your leg strength, circulation and vein strength. Focus on exercises that work your legs, such as walking or running.
  • Control your weight to avoid placing too much pressure on your legs.
  • Do not cross your legs when sitting.
  • Elevate your legs when resting as much as possible.
  • Do not stand or sit for long periods of time. If you must stand for a long time, shift your weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. If you must sit for long periods of time, stand up and move around or take a short walk every 30 minutes.
  • Wear elastic support stockings and avoid tight clothing that constricts your waist, groin or legs.
  • Eat a low-salt diet rich in high-fiber foods. Eating fiber reduces the chances of constipation which can contribute to varicose veins. High fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, like bran. Eating too much salt can cause you to retain water or swell.

The Vein Center of Southwest Louisiana offers state-of-the-art non-surgical outpatient treatment options for varicose and spider vein patients. Learn more at or call (337) 312-VEIN.


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