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Varicose Veins - Prevention and Treatment

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I'm 44 years old and started noticing small veins showing on the back of my legs. Are these varicose veins and what can I do to get rid of it?


Vein vain

Dear Vein vain,

Varicose veins are swollen enlarged blood vessels that will appear blue and bulging and may be accompanied by pain and swelling in the leg. On the other hand, spider veins are dilated small blood vessels close to the skin surface that will have a red or bluish color and can occur on the face as well as legs. Varicose veins and spider veins are not dangerous, but see your physician for treatment options.

If your legs ache, then wear support hose, avoid standing for long periods, avoid crossing legs and keep feel elevated when sitting. The American Academy of Dermatology ( recommends that severe cases be treated with surgery or radio frequency, sclerotherapy injections or laser therapy (AAD, 2005).

The National Women's Health Information Center ( offers these tips to prevent varicose and spider veins and to relieve discomfort from the ones you have:

1. Sunscreen: protect your skin from the sun by wearing sunscreen to limit spider veins on the face.

2. Exercise: walk or run regularly to improve your leg strength, circulation, and vein strength.

3. Weight: control weight to avoid putting pressure on legs.

4. Sitting: do not cross your legs when sitting. Elevate legs when resting.

5. Do not stand or sit for long periods of time. If you must, then shift your weight from one leg to the other. If you have to sit for long periods of time, then stand up and move around or take a short walk approximately every 30 minutes.

6. Wear elastic support stockings. Avoid clothing that is too tight or constricts waist, groin, or legs.

7. Diet: make sure to include high-fiber foods in your diet since constipation can contribute to varicose veins. High fiber foods include fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains, like bran. Control your salt-intake because salt can cause water retention and swelling.

For more information about varicose of spider veins, see and