Lifestyle Changes for Varicose Veins

At NYU Langone, our doctors recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent varicose veins from worsening. These guidelines may also decrease pain and the risk of complications.

If you’re experiencing pain, blood clots, or skin ulcers, your doctor may recommend a minimally invasive treatment in addition to or instead of lifestyle changes.

Wear Compression Garments

Wearing compression garments can help blood that is pooling in the leg, ankle, or foot to flow in the right direction. Your doctor may prescribe elastic, graduated compression stockings or socks made with a flexible fabric. They apply different pressures to different parts of the legs and feet to keep blood moving through the veins.

Elevate the Legs

Elevating your legs when you’re sitting can take pressure off the veins in the legs and increase blood flow. Consider raising them with a footstool, and avoid crossing your legs.

Exercise Regularly

If it’s safe for you to exercise, your doctor may advise increasing your activity level to improve circulation in the legs. Your doctor may recommend activities such as walking or cycling for 30 minutes up to 5 days a week. Certain types of exercise—such as lifting weights, distance running, and yoga—may stress your veins. They can lead to a backup of blood, so your doctor may advise restricting or avoiding those activities.

Standing or sitting for long periods can cause blood to pool in leg veins and may lead to or worsen the symptoms of varicose veins. Your doctor may also advise taking frequent breaks from sitting or standing to move your legs and help blood flow in the right direction.

Avoid Salt

Salt, or sodium, can cause the body to retain water and contribute to varicose veins. Excess fluid in the legs can cause swelling and put pressure on veins.

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese can put pressure on pelvic and leg veins and lead to varicose veins. Experts at NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program can help you reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Avoid Tight Clothing and High Heels

Wearing tight clothing—girdles, body shapers, elastic knee socks, and even snug belts—can restrict blood flow from the legs to the heart, causing it to pool.

Wearing high-heeled shoes for long periods of time can also restrict blood flow in the legs and may worsen varicose veins. Choose a shorter heel to help maintain a healthier blood flow.

Moisturize the Skin

The skin protects your body, including the veins in your legs. A daily application of moisturizer can heal dry or cracked skin, improving the health of your legs.

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