Snuggling up next to the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book while the blistery snow blows outside sounds dreamy to most people. The thought of going outside, especially to exercise, becomes less and less appealing to many as winter hits.
If you have varicose veins, you may actually welcome the cold weather, though, as it gives you an excuse to hide your unsightly veins under long pants. But, did you know that varicose veins may worsen in winter? The amount of exercise most people get usually decreases when the weather gets colder, and a variety of health problems, including varicose veins, can result from this more sedentary lifestyle.
Varicose veins—enlarged, twisted veins near the surface of the skin, predominantly in the legs—are partly hereditary; however, obesity, lack of exercise, and a bad diet can contribute to their development. Lack of movement forces veins to work harder to pump blood back to the heart.
Although it’s difficult to completely prevent varicose veins due to their hereditary nature, you can do several things to decrease your chances of getting them, including losing weight if you’re overweight, quitting smoking if you’re a smoker, and avoiding standing for long periods of time. Most important during the winter months is to get regular exercise. Get a gym membership or participate in indoor sports, such as basketball or racquetball. Find an indoor track or shopping mall and go walking with a friend. Or do a workout video at home.
While winter can make varicose veins worse, it is also a great time to get them treated. Many doctors will recommend that patients wear compression stockings before and after varicose vein treatment to boost blood circulation by applying pressure to the veins of the calves and ankles. Many people are more willing to wear compression stockings in the winter, when they offer warmth and protection against the cold, rather than in the hot summer months, when they are difficult to tolerate.
Varicose vein treatment can provide quick relief of symptoms, such as throbbing, aching, and cramping; however, changes in the physical appearance of the veins may take longer to achieve. Treating varicose veins in winter allows you sufficient time to heal and to begin seeing noticeable improvement in the appearance of your legs before warm months (and shorts and swimsuit seasons!) arrive.
Some patients may also need more than one treatment, so the earlier you begin your treatment plan, the more likely you are to achieve beneficial results before spring and summer come around.
If you’re suffering from the discomfort of varicose veins, now is the perfect time to seek treatment. Vein Center of Indiana, serving the greater Indianapolis area, is a leading provider in the treatment and removal of varicose and spider veins.