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Five ways to help prevent varicose veins

Riddle Hospital February 7, 2014 General Wellness

Varicose veins affect half of all people 50 and older, and two of the biggest contributing factors to developing varicose veins are a family history of them and increasing age. Statistics like that might have you thinking: What can I do?

“Most people don’t realize that there are things they can do—lifestyle changes—that will help reduce their risk for varicose veins,” says Vincent DiGiovanni, DO, vascular surgeon of Main Line HealthCare Vascular Specialists and Riddle Hospital. “These won’t necessarily eliminate your risk altogether, but they can lessen the severity of some cases.”

Take a break

Sitting or standing for a long period of time forces your veins to work harder to pump blood to your heart, especially if they’re bent or crossed. Unfortunately, we usually don’t have a choice in these situations. Whenever possible, take short breaks. Stretch in between shows if you’re curled up on the couch, and go for a two-minute stroll for every hour you’re at your desk. If you’ve been standing for awhile, take a seat and elevate your feet, which will help decrease venous congestion.


Regular exercise can improve your health in a lot of ways, including improving circulation and promoting weight loss, both of which can reduce your risk for varicose veins. Focus on exercises that benefit the legs and calves, like daily walks and simple ankle or calf stretches.

Let loose

Wearing clothing that is too tight in the waist, groin, or legs can increase your risk for varicose veins. Try to wear loose-fitting pants or skirts whenever possible. If you’re already starting to notice a few varicose veins, ask your physician about wearing compression stockings.

Wear sunscreen

Although most people traditionally find varicose or spider veins on their legs, they can pop up on your face, too, particularly if you’re fair-skinned. Lather up with sunscreen before going outside to reduce your risk, even if it won’t be for a long period of time.

Walk wisely

Aside from not being great for the bones of your feet and legs, high heels can also increase your risk of having varicose veins. Try to limit how often you wear high heels to once or twice a week. Flat, supportive shoes and sneakers will allow your calf muscles to more effectively pump blood out of your legs. If you must wear heels, look for those with a wide heel and thick sole.

Even after precautionary measures like these, varicose veins can still develop. They usually aren’t painful, but can open the door to more serious health issues. Talk to your doctor about whether or not to seek treatment and what treatment options are available.

Visit our website to learn more about minimally invasive treatments for varicose veins available at Riddle Hospital.