If you’d rather not have surgery, there may be other things you can do to relieve your symptoms.
If your varicose veins are mainly a cosmetic problem, and if they’re not too uncomfortable, you can try supportive treatments instead of surgery.
Elevate your legs when you’re sitting or sleeping
By elevating your legs, the blood can return more easily to your heart, taking the pressure of the veins in your legs.
Wear compression stockings or socks
Graduated compression stockings or socks gently squeeze your leg to take the pressure off your veins and stop blood pooling. There are different types of compression stockings and socks and they need to be fitted by an expert, preferably when your leg isn’t swollen. Your doctor can prescribe them and refer you to someone who can do this. If you have extras cover you may be able to claim for compression stockings or socks.
Avoid high heels and tight jeans
High heels and tight pants can affect the blood flow in your leg veins, making varicose veins worse.
Your calf muscles help do the work of returning blood up your legs to your heart. Regular walking is a great way to make them stronger. Swimming and cycling are also recommended.
Avoid standing or sitting for long periods
Standing still or sitting for a long time increases pressure on your leg veins, and the discomfort of varicose veins. Try to elevate your legs when you’re sitting still.
Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight puts increased pressure on your veins. If you’re overweight, you may not have visible varicose veins but you can still suffer from the tell-tale symptoms, like a burning sensation, itching, night cramps, leg swelling and restless legs. Losing weight won’t fix existing varicose veins, but can stop them from getting worse.
Straining due to constipation can increase the blood pressure in your leg veins and is a risk factor for varicose veins. To avoid constipation, drink plenty of water. Make sure there’s plenty of fibre in your diet by eating fibre-rich foods, avoiding processed foods and taking supplementary fibre if needed.
Natural remedies and supplements
Although a number of natural remedies and supplements are used for relieving varicose veins, there’s limited evidence for their effectiveness.
Clinical studies of horse chestnut extracts have found that taking an active ingredient contained in the seeds, called aescin, reduces pain, itching and swelling due to varicose veins, at least in the short term. Its long-term effectiveness hasn't been established but it’s relatively safe and any adverse effects are usually mild and infrequent.
Paroven® (oxerutins) is an over-the-counter bioflavonoid medication that relieves swollen, painful legs.
If you’re pregnant
Pregnancy can make new varicose veins appear and aggravate any existing ones, although they’ll probably improve after you have your baby. Your doctor will probably advise against treating varicose veins while you’re pregnant, so conservative measures are your best options.
If you’re planning to have another baby, and you have varicose veins from your last pregnancy, it’s wise to get them treated before falling pregnant again.
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