How to Prevent Varicose Veins

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Understand simple lifestyle changes you can make to help prevent varicose veins or ease the pain they are causing.

According to a Harvard study, approximately one-fourth of adults in the United States suffer from varicose veins. And for half of those adults, varicose veins run in the family.

Unfortunately, you can’t change your genes. Sometimes varicose veins cannot be prevented — they are, for some people, simply inevitable due to genetics. You can thank your family for that.

However, genes are not the only cause of varicose vein issues. There are a number of other things that lead to the development of these bulging, twisted, blue veins in your legs and possibly other parts of your body. The good news is that most of the other causes of varicose veins can be prevented with hard work, determination, and consistent dedication to a healthy lifestyle.

Here are the most common ways you can work to prevent varicose veins, or, if you already have them, keep them from getting worse and ease the pain that varicose veins are causing.

1. Exercise

Exercise is not just a great home remedy for varicose veins — it is something that benefits literally every part of your body. In fact, when done right, exercise will do nothing but good things for you — the key part being “done right”.

There is such a thing as exercising incorrectly or too much, and when it comes to vein health, you want to be sure you’re exercising correctly and just the right amount.

Many people are scared off when they hear the word “exercise,” as they think they have to adopt a strict workout regimen that will have them running miles a day or lifting unfathomable amounts of weight.

However, that could not be farther from the truth. For most, and especially those worried about vein health, doing something as small as taking a 20-minute walk a day or trying a yoga class after work is enough to keep your body in good health.

women practicing yoga on the beach

The key to a healthy workout is finding one that is moderately strenuous, and most importantly, something that you know you can commit to on a regular basis. Consistency is key.

2. Change your diet

One of the five leading causes of varicose veins is obesity. The extra weight is strenuous on your veins, thanks to the additional pressure your veins are having to deal with. And that’s in addition to all the other health issues people with obesity are putting themselves at risk of, including type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

However, unlike genes, your diet is something that you can change to improve your overall health. With some easy swaps in your diet and lifestyle, you can shed those extra pounds and ensure that your veins stay healthy and varicose vein-free.

One of the biggest dangers in terms of your diet is sugar, processed sugar, that is. Naturally occurring sugar that you find in fruit and vegetables can benefit your health but stay away from processed sugars that will have your body spinning in all the wrong ways.

fresh organic fruits and vegetables

In fact, consuming too much-processed sugar is known to have a negative effect on your cardiovascular health, often leading to weight gain, blood sugar problems, and increased risk of heart disease. According to, the main sources of dangerous added sugars in American diets are soft drinks, candy, cookies, cakes, dairy desserts, and fruit drinks. Be aware of these next time you’re strolling the grocery store or picking up lunch at work.

In addition, opting for whole wheat bread and pasta rather than white flour-based products, and swapping out your white rice for brown rice are a few small changes that will help introduce healthier choices in your diet to help prevent varicose veins.

3. Move often

In addition to regular exercise like going for a jog or taking a yoga class, it is equally as important to get your body moving throughout the day, every 30 minutes or so. By sitting or standing in the same position for long periods of time, your blood has a hard time working against gravity and doing its job properly. And this is one of the issues that can lead to varicose veins as a result of blood pooling.

Similar to the exercise, this doesn’t mean you need to go for a 5-mile run, it just means you need to get up and walk around, stretch your ankles and your calves, and do some other leg movements to get the blood flowing again. Certain activities, such as walking your dog or going for a leisurely swim with your kids, can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle without even having to make the trip to the gym.

4. Try leg elevation

Elevating your legs after a long day is another great way to help get your blood circulation back to normal. In fact, if possible, don’t wait until the end of the day — elevate your legs whenever you can. Your body works hard to pump the blood all the way from your legs back up to your heart, so help it along the way by alleviating the pressure and the stress as much as possible. Try going for a walk during the day, perhaps to grab a coffee or chat with a coworker. These small movements will have a significant impact on your vein health if you stay consistent with them.

5. Wear compression stockings

If you need a little help to keep your circulation flowing, turn to compression stockings. These help keep your blood from pooling and, if you already have varicose veins, will help reduce any pain and/or swelling you may be experiencing.

Compression stockings are a must-have when preventing varicose veins from getting worse. They work to help support blood flow, decrease pressure inside your veins and ultimately relieve common symptoms from varicose veins, like pain and swelling. They also come in handy when traveling long distances, such as on a flight or during a car ride, as compression socks can help keep your blood flowing when you’re stuck sitting for long periods of time.

woman wearing compression stockings to help varicose veins

As you can see, there are many ways you can work to prevent varicose veins or lessen the chances of developing them over time. For some, it is inevitable that they develop these vein issues, as they may just have it in their genes. However, the above steps will help keep varicose vein issues at bay, prevent new ones from arising, and help ease the pain or uncomfortable feeling that is often associated with these vein issues.

Interested in reading more about vein disease prevention? Explore our collection of topics.

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Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Satish Vayuvegula
Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is the National Medical Director at Vein Clinics of America. Certified by the American Board of Venous & Lymphatic Medicine, Dr. Satish Vayuvegula is recognized as a physician who has met rigorous standards of knowledge and extensive training in phlebology, the diagnosis and treatment of varicose vein disease and related disorders. Dr. Satish also shares his passion and expertise by serving as a board member of the American Vein and Lymphatic Society, the predominant national organization for venous and lymphatic disease.

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