Varicose veins. They’re a bit of a mystery to most people – but not a charming mystery. They’re the bane of some women’s life: ugly, unwanted souvenirs of the physical rigors of pregnancy. It’s ironic that the process of creating new life, which brings such joy to prospective parents, should sometimes have side effects that harm the self-esteem of the mother.
But pregnancy is not the only cause of varicose veins and their close relative, spider veins. They can be merely by-products of growing older, but that’s no consolation to someone whose legs – those essential working parts of the body that we take for granted – have acquired visual imperfections through no fault of our own.
Thankfully, there are ways of getting rid of them, and we’re going to show you five of the best, including natural alternatives.
Varicose veins are swollen, sometimes bulging, veins that crop up in the legs just below the skin. Spider veins are tiny red zigzags like forked lightning, and although neither they nor the varicose variety are usually harmful, they can amount to disfigurements and cause great distress.
Varicose veins and spider veins occur almost as much in men as in women, and affect roughly 50% of the American population. It is estimated that 55% of women and 45% of men are affected by varicose veins)
Although they are probably harmless, there is an outside chance that varicose and spider veins were caused by deep vein thrombosis, so they should be checked out by a doctor, who will either recommend a treatment or suggest the patient just learns to live with them. If you are affected and you don’t want to live with them, here are some things to consider.
1. Exercise your legs
These rogue veins are leg problems. They are ordinary veins trying to do their job of taking blood back up to the heart, but thwarted by the sheer hard work involved. Gravity makes it more difficult for many things to go up than to come down, and when the elasticity and energy of a vein starts to wane, some of the blood stays there, forming a swollen river that becomes visible. Therefore we have to help our legs to remain in good condition, and that means exercise. It’s the sort of thing we can easily do ourselves by learning (or pretending) to love stairs – and of course the heart gets a workout that way too. Or you can go to the gym and ask an expert to recommend some low impact exercises.
- Change your diet
Again, easily done for most of us, provided we have the willpower. Losing weight is one goal, but not the only one, and anyway it’s a good thing in most cases. If you succeed in getting rid of the unsightly veins you might be more inclined to show off your legs, so a bit of shape and tone won’t go amiss.
Vitamins are key in this respect too, particularly C and B. Everybody knows that many fruits are rich in vitamin C, so you should tuck into the oranges, mandarins, tangerines and grapefruit (not if you’re on hypertension medication, though; for some reason grapefruit should be avoided in that case). And load your shopping up with strawberries, mangoes and kiwi fruit, or juices.
For vitamin B, meat, chicken, turkey, salmon and seafood are among the best. The B vitamins include thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate (also called folic acid or folacin), vitamin B6, vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid. Some foods contain only one, while others have several. Nuts and grains, including good, wholesome cereals, are also excellent sources. Even the not-so-recommended popular cereals are often fortified (have vitamins added). The milk you have with them is a great vitamin B provider too, as are yoghurt and cheese. And of course you can take supplements, although when the foods themselves are so nice, it’s more fun to eat them.
- Compression therapy
Since these veins need a little help to push the blood up, there are sort of stockings (about as long as soccer socks), which gently grip around the ankle and lower leg, giving the blood a helpful shove. If you’re wearing jeans or any kind of long pants, nobody is going to know there is something squeezing your lower legs, and they’re not uncomfortable once you’ve got used to them. Take a look at this: Compression stockings
- Sclero therapy
Sclerosis is just a fancy word that just means “hardening”. If the troublesome veins have simply become tough in their old age, perhaps the answer is to get rid of them, and this therapy does just that. It uses a soap-like chemical that is injected into the vein and causes it to break down and disappear. And where will the blood go then? The body will reroute it through another vein – it’s very good at that sort of thing.
- Laser therapy
If James Bond had his varicose veins done he would probably use this method. Lasers are highly concentrated light beams which, again, cause the offending veins to break down and skedaddle. The procedure is virtually painless, and it’s quick and decisive. More information here: Varicose vein removal Whittier
So, Blofeld, aim that thing down here – you’ll be doing me a favour.
If you have a varicose vein story, about the cause or a treatment, why not share it with everyone?