Does weight affect varicose veins?

Health & Wellness

Being overweight is one of the contributing causes of varicose veins.  If you are significantly overweight, the pressure in the abdomen increases and that makes it more difficult for the blood to return from the legs to the heart.  Flow of blood from the legs to the heart relies on the calf pump (ie walking) in association with one-way valves in the veins of the leg.  As the calf muscle contracts, blood is pumped up the leg and the valves prevent the blood flowing back down the leg when pump is inactive (such as when you stand still).  The flow from the legs to the heart is aided by the negative pressure in the chest and the relatively low pressure in the abdomen.  If the pressure in the abdomen and chest rises, then the flow of blood from the legs to the heart is made more difficult.  The pressure in the veins of the legs goes up and then stress on the valves increases.  If you are prone to developing varicose veins, being overweight will contribute to the development of varicose veins.

Once the varicose veins have formed, losing weight will not reverse the varicose veins that have already developed.  However, weight-loss should help to prevent more varicose veins begining.  People who are very overweight and then lose large amounts of weight find the varicose veins become more noticeable.  It is not a sign that more veins are becoming varicosed.  The reason that they become more noticeable is that the fat that was lying between the skin and the varicose veins is reduced so the veins can now be seen more easily.

Severe chronic venous insufficiency is a common finding in people who are morbidly obese due to the pressure in the veins of the legs being very high.  It is characterised by changes in the skin in the lower calf including pigmentation, staining, narrowing of the lower calf due to scarring (lipodermatosclerosis or LDS), eczema, itching and ultimately ulcers and cellulitis (infection in the skin).  These are late changes and very difficult to treat.

Maintaining a healthy weight is very important for many reasons, one of which is to keep your veins in good working order.

At The Art of Vein Care, we specialise in the management of varicose veins and venous disease.  We offer expert consultations, walk-in walk-out treatment with minimal down time.  If you would like further information, please contact us here:

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