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
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
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
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
- 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 www.veincenter-swla.com or call (337)