Varicose veins — those bulging lines of dark blue or purple veins popping up on your legs or feet — can be painful or merely a cosmetic nuisance. Although there are many minimally invasive treatment options for varicose veins, many patients are hesitant to undergo an operation and would rather try non-surgical options first.
Not all at-home antidotes are created equal, though. Herbal potions and essential oils, while not harmful, offer only temporary comfort. At the same time, advancements in vein treatment have made permanently removing varicose veins virtually pain-free with minimally invasive surgical techniques.
If you have varicose veins, you’ve probably seen advertisements for natural remedies touted as cures for varicose veins. However, these topical lotions or supplements don’t get to the source of the condition, which results from a chronic venous insufficiency deep in the leg.
Herbs and plant extracts such as horse chestnut, grape seed, sea pine, and butcher’s broom may briefly reduce discomfort, but there is not enough scientific evidence suggesting these remedies make varicose veins disappear. In addition, if you’re taking a blood thinner, you should not ingest a grape seed extract, as it may increase bleeding.
Some at-home treatments actually can ease achy and swollen legs and feet, or can delay the onset of varicose veins. If you want to hold off on varicose vein surgery, these four tips are your best bets for symptom reduction.
The Best Non-Surgical Treatments for Varicose Veins
Low-impact aerobic exercises such as walking, swimming, and biking gently work the calf muscles, helping the veins move blood along. If you work at a job where you sit or stand for long hours, take frequent breaks to walk around to stimulate the calf muscles.
Change Your Diet
A healthy diet can have many benefits, from lowering blood pressure, improving blood circulation, and decreasing pain and discomfort in your joints. Likewise, a poor diet can have an equally negative impact on your health, including your vein health.
Consuming too much sodium boosts water retention, which may exacerbate swelling in the legs. So the first item to cut from your diet is salt. Instead, plan your meals around potassium-rich foods (potatoes, leafy vegetables, and fish like tuna and salmon) that flush water from the body.
To improve circulation, load up on colorful flavonoids, such as bell peppers, onions, spinach, broccoli, and citrus fruits. High-fiber foods like nuts and whole grains maintain proper digestion. Poor digestion can lead to constipation that strains the veins when you’re trying to move bowels.
Prop Up Your Legs
Varicose veins are most likely to appear in leg veins. Elevating your legs on a pillow above your heart encourages blood to flow to the chest. This will lessen discomfort, reduce swelling, and alleviate some pressure to the legs.
Wear Compression Stockings
Compression stockings made of tightly woven elastic give the vein valves an added push to pump blood up to the heart. And science backs up that claim: according to a 2018 study, patients who wore compression stockings reported a reduction in symptoms. Depending upon the severity of your varicose vein symptoms, you can buy a pair in a drugstore or get a prescription for the highest-grade pressure. Wear them during the day, and then take them off at night when you sleep.
These treatments alleviate symptoms, but do not completely eliminate varicose veins. For a long-lasting solution, you’ll need surgery.
Lasting Treatments for Varicose Veins
Varicose veins emerge because the valves in the veins aren’t able to push blood back to the heart. The weakened valves cause blood pools to collect within the vein walls, eventually stretching the vein out from under the skin and leading to the visible appearance of bulging veins, spider veins, or varicose veins.
At the Center for Vein Restoration, our vascular surgeons can perform minimally invasive varicose veins treatments to rid you of varicose veins once and for all. Procedures such as sclerotherapy, laser treatment and radiofrequency ablation, VenaSeal, and ambulatory phlebectomy use either a solution, an adhesive, heat waves, or small incisions to remove or collapse the damaged vein.
We can also discuss conservative treatment options, including compression stockings, to reduce varicose vein symptoms. But if you decide to go the surgical route, all these procedures are safe, effective, and get you back home the same day. Contact our office today for an appointment to learn more.