5 methods that can reduce your varicose veins

The bad news is that varicose veins run in the family. The good news? While you can't change your genes, there's plenty else you can do.

5 methods that can reduce your varicose veins

1. Use compression socks and exercise

  • Compression stockings gently squeeze your legs so blood can't move backwards.
  • Japanese researchers have found that all grades of compression stockings reduce swelling. Medium and strong-grade stockings work best.
  • Compression stockings are good if you're on your feet for hours every day, but they work best with exercise.
  • Try simple exercises, like rising on your toes several times an hour, shifting your weight from one foot to the other, bending your legs or walking in place.

2. Try horse chestnut seed extract

  • Researchers have found that horse chestnut seed extract can reduce the pain associated with varicose veins.
  • The supplement can also reduce itching.
  • British researchers reviewing seven horse chestnut studies concluded that it might be as effective as compression stockings.

3. Eat some flavonoids

  • Flavonoids are antioxidants that can reduce the swelling associated with varicose veins.
  • In one German study, those who took a flavonoid called oxerutin had twice the reduction in leg swelling compared to those who took a placebo. Benefits continued for six weeks after treatment ended.

4. Drink a daily glass of wine

  • Spanish researchers found that people who enjoyed a glass of wine a day had a 50 percent lower risk of varicose veins than those who drank less — or more.
  • Other research suggests that flavonoids and saponins in wine can help keep blood vessels flexible and healthy.

5. Get off your feet

Researchers have found that having a job that keeps you on your feet for long periods of time increases risk 60 percent. If you have a stand-up occupation, like teaching or retail sales, sit down and elevate your feet when you can take a break.

6. Ge the surgery

  • The most common varicose vein surgery is called ligation and stripping — tying off a big vein and then pulling it out.
  • In one study, 90 percent of test subjects said their legs were "much better" or "cured" a few months after the surgery. Ten years later, 60 percent said their legs still felt or looked better.
  • Surgery is no cure-all.
  • When Italian researchers followed varicose vein surgery patients for 10 years, 30 percent said their vein problems returned within five years, and 40 percent saw a recurrence within a decade.
  • Surgery also comes with risks. The odds of nerve damage can be as high as 1 in 10.

At best, varicose veins are a cosmetic problem. At worst, they can lead to inflammation and even ulcers. But there are options available. Always consult your physician before starting a new medical treatment.

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