Whether you suffer from smaller spider veins or varicose veins, it’s often best to start with conservative management for leg veins before jumping straight into invasive treatments. In many cases, more conservative options are things you can do on your own to alleviate irritation, pain, and discomfort that may come from your veins.
At Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center, our team specializes in spider and varicose vein treatments, including vein surgery. However, we want to ensure our patients always try out different options before we move through the treatment process.
Read on to learn more about at-home conservative measures for leg veins and other non-surgical vein treatment options.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are large, twisted veins that bulge under the skin’s surface. They are often blue in appearance, though color can slightly vary from person to person. Keep in mind that having varicose veins isn’t considered a serious medical problem, but they could lead to uncomfortable side effects such as burning, itchiness, and pain.
Are varicose veins and spider veins the same?
No, varicose veins and spider veins aren’t quite the same. Spider veins are tiny, web-like veins that twist just beneath the surface. They are usually red, blue, or purple in color and can be concentrated in one area or spread throughout the entire leg. They are also common on the face. In a sense, you can think of spider veins as a milder form of varicose veins, and they typically stem from the same issue. For many people, spider veins don’t cause pain or discomfort like varicose veins; they are mainly an aesthetic concern.
What causes varicose and spider veins?
Weak and damaged valves are often the culprit behind both varicose and spider veins. Veins are in charge of carrying blood back up to your heart (conversely, arteries transport blood from your heart to your body—they are not the same). Due to gravity, everything that comes up, must come down, and that includes blood. However, you don’t want blood without oxygen circulating back down. That is why the valves in your veins play such a crucial role.
In your legs, muscle contractions act as pumps to push blood to your heart. As blood in your veins fights against gravity, valves open to let it in, then close to stop it from coming back down.
Therefore, if you have weak or damaged valves, blood can flow backward and pool inside the vein. This added pressure can cause veins to become stretched and enlarged, forming spider veins or varicose veins in more extreme cases.
So where do weak or damaged valves come from?
That question is a little hard to answer. There’s no one true answer for where weak and damaged valves come from, rather it depends on a variety of factors, such as:
Genetics: Especially with spider veins, if you have a close relative with the condition, it is likely you will form them as well.
Age: You won’t often see younger people with leg veins, and that is simply because varicose and spider veins tend to emerge with age.
Gender: Due to various hormonal changes such as pregnancy, menopause, and oral contraceptives, women are more likely to have visible leg veins than men.
Obesity: Excess body weight can put more pressure on the veins, making them more susceptible to leg veins.
Conservative treatment options for leg veins
Conservative management for leg veins is often the first attempt to treat veins and reduce discomfort. It’s important to note these options are not cures; instead, they are meant to help you feel better, reduce the appearance of your veins, and make daily life easier. Here are a few conservative options we recommend for our patients before we move forward with more invasive leg vein treatments.
Compression hose are a very common way to manage leg veins, and they are often the most effective. In some cases, insurance companies require you to wear them for three months before seeking other options. The added compression helps prevent blood from pushing back down from gravity and reduces swelling.
How to choose the right compression hose
Choosing the right compression hose is key to achieving the best results. Compression hose come in different lengths such as:
- Stockings that stop right below the knee
- Thigh-high stockings
- Full-length stockings
If your varicose and/or spider veins are limited to the calf area, you probably won’t need compression hose or socks that rise to your upper leg and vice versa.
You also want to consider pressure, which is measured in mmHg. While you want your compression hose to fit well and feel snug, you don’t want them to be suffocating or painful. If you have a job where you are on your feet often, consider starting with a lighter compression and work your way up if needed. For those with more serious concerns or are trying to prevent deep vein thrombosis (a blood clot in deeper veins), you may want to find a hose with a higher mmHg.
If you ever have concerns or questions, it’s best to speak to your doctor about which type of compression stockings would benefit you most. For those in the Rogers area, Ozark Regional Vein center is always available to make recommendations.
How to wear compression stockings correctly
Whenever you put on any type of compression hose, it is important to smooth them out as you put them on. That means you don’t want any wrinkling or bunching. For the hose to work efficiently, they need to lay flat against your legs. You will also want to note the length. If you notice they are too long, do not roll or fold them. That could affect circulation. Instead, it’s best to find a hose that fits the length of your legs appropriately. For maximum benefits, we recommend wearing your hose as often as you can.
Keeping your leg elevated is a simple way to fight against the pull of gravity. In doing so, you promote the upward flow of blood in your veins. Some people benefit from leg elevation sessions throughout the day. For example, your doctor may recommend 15 minute increments 3 times a day. If you have mild-to-moderate this can help with discomfort and swelling.
Exercise and physical activity
While exercising and physical activity won’t completely get rid of varicose and spider veins, staying active can definitely help alleviate some side effects. Moving your body promotes blood circulation and can help keep everything moving in the right direction. In addition, regular exercise (and a healthy diet) can help you stay in shape and maintain a healthy weight. Since obesity is a factor that contributes to varicose and spider veins, losing weight may reduce pressure on your veins.
The best way to consistently stay active is finding exercises that you enjoy. If you don’t like jogging, then don’t force yourself to do so. That often only leads to giving up and becoming stagnant. Some exercises you may want to consider include:
- Bike riding
- Leg lift stretches
- Water aerobics
- And more
Remember, be patient with your body and don’t feel like you have to overwork yourself. Even light activity three times a week could benefit your leg veins.
Minimally invasive varicose vein and spider vein treatments
If you find that at-home conservative management for leg veins isn’t enough, there are still treatment options available before turning to surgery.
Common minimally invasive leg vein procedures include:
Sclerotherapy (treats spider and varicose veins): Sclerotherapy is an injection process that uses an FDA-approved solution called “sclerosing agents” to irritate the veins and cause them to swell. As a result, vein walls stick together, shut, then turn into scar tissue, which the body then reabsorbs.
VeinGogh (treats spider veins): VeinGogh uses micro-burst technology to heat and eliminate spider veins from the inside, and it doesn’t require any downtime. This unique technology can also be used to treat cherry angiomas, small hemangiomas, redness, and even skin tags.
Excel® V (treats spider veins): Excel V is a versatile laser treatment that is safe and effective for all skin types. As veins absorb laser energy, they heat up then collapse.
ClosureFast™ (treats varicose veins): Guided by an ultrasound scan, the ClosureFast catheter heats an exact 7 centimeter segment of a vein for 20 second intervals. The heat from the radiofrequency makes the targeted vein collapse permanently.
Varithena® (treats varicose veins): Varithena is a microfoam injectable treatment that collapses refluxing veins. After the treatment, your blood will begin flowing through healthier veins.
Learn more about conservative management options for leg veins with Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center
Ozark Regional Vein & Artery Center is the only practice in Northwest Arkansas that provides all the highest available quality vein treatments, and we focus only on vein treatment. Dr. Haney and our expert staff have over 75 years of combined experience in the industry, ensuring you get the best leg vein procedures available in Rogers.
Helping people is what we do. No matter your vein issue, we can guide you toward a solution that will ease your discomfort and boost your confidence. With our world-class vein care and focus on patient education, we are sure to achieve real results each and every time.
Get started today by using our Instant Vein & Artery Screening Quiz or scheduling a consultation.