September 13, 2023

Does Being Overweight Cause Varicose Veins?

Fitness, General, Healthy Living, Leg / Vein Health, Weight Loss

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in every three Americans is overweight or obese. Not only does being overweight put you at risk for serious health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and stroke, it also contributes to the development of varicose veins.

Pressure on veins causes varicose veins to form, which can happen in overweight individuals when the pressure from extra body fat squeezes the walls of the veins. Other factors, including age, gender and family history of varicose veins, can cause them to form.

The three types of vein disorders.

As venous disease affects more than 40 million Americans, there are three types we treat at the MercyOne Iowa Heart Vein Center:

  • Varicose veins are enlarged veins that occur in the legs and can affect both men and women. Usually dark blue in color, they can form near or above the surface of the skin.
  • Spider veins are the threadlike red, blue or purple blood vessels that occur in patches primarily on the legs and face.
  • Deep vein thrombosis, commonly referred to as DVT, occurs when a blood clot enters the large veins of the legs or pelvic area. They may be painful, but some may be completely asymptomatic.

You may not know you have varicose veins.

Varicose veins can sometimes be hidden by extra body fat in the legs. Symptoms of throbbing or cramping leg pain and changes in the skin are indicators of having varicose veins.

Will losing weight help varicose veins?

As more excess body fat puts pressure on veins, losing weight can make your symptoms much more manageable. Even losing a few pounds can alleviate some of the leg pain that comes with varicose veins. Weight loss will also improve circulation by having less blood pool in your lower extremities.

To help lose weight, we recommend walking at least 10,000 steps per day, eating right and avoid sitting all day. On our website, we have more tips for healthy leg care.

How to treat varicose veins.

After a thorough consultation with one of our vein experts, we’ll be able to make a recommendation for treatment such as endovenous vein therapy, ambulatory phlebectomy and sclerotherapy. Compression socks are sometimes a first line of treatment for patients with varicose veins. The socks assist in returning blood back to the heart. Although symptoms may be lessened, the socks will not reverse the condition.

Our three minimally invasive procedures are:

  • Endovenous vein therapy is a short, minimally invasive alternative to more invasive vein stripping procedures. It leaves minimal scarring and is performed under local anesthesia. A thin fiber or catheter is inserted into the vein and heat energy is applied to the vein. The energy heats the vein from within, causing it to shrink, collapse and seal shut.
  • Ambulatory phlebectomy is an office procedure performed to remove large surface varicose veins through tiny skin punctures. It leaves minimal scarring and is performed under local anesthesia. There is very little discomfort, and no stitches are required.
  • Used primarily in the treatment of spider veins and small varicose veins, sclerotherapy involves injecting a “sclerosing” agent into the vein using a very fine needle. This chemical solution irritates the vein tissue, causing the lining of the vein to swell, harden and eventually seal off.

To learn more about the pre- and post-procedure care options, visit here. And to schedule a consultation, click here.

Am I a Candidate?

Determine if you are at risk for developing or already have symptoms for venous disease.