If you suffer from varicose veins, you may find summer a difficult time. While some varicose veins are just unsightly and might put you off wearing shorts, skirts or even swimwear at this time of year, you could find that the heat makes existing varicose veins feel even more uncomfortable or painful. Mr Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular Surgeon investigates.
What causes varicose veins?
According to the NHS, varicose veins are usually caused by weak vein walls and valves. Veins contain small, one-way valves which open and close, letting blood through and stopping it from flowing backwards. However, sometimes the walls of veins can lose their elasticity - or stretch - which means that these valves can become weak. There are many reasons why the walls of the veins can stretch or weaken, many of which aren’t fully understood. In fact, sometimes, a reason for the condition is hard to find.
When the valves don't function properly, blood can leak and flow backwards - potentially collecting in your veins. This can cause them to become swollen and enlarged.
Who is at risk from developing varicose veins?
Varicose veins are common in both men and women. Troublesome veins can start at any age, but some studies show that upwards of one person in every three suffers from moderate to severe vein problems as they get older.
Although a family history of vein issues can play a part, pregnancy and being overweight can also be contributing factors in developing weakened veins. If you’re in an active or physical job, prolonged periods of standing can also be a factor, even if you’re otherwise healthy.
Are varicose veins worse in the summer?
Hot weather makes all veins dilate, especially those on the surface of the skin, as we try to lose heat and maintain a constant body temperature. It’s part of the normal response to heat, just like sweating, and doesn’t necessarily mean that the veins are abnormal.
While summer heat alone won’t cause them, if you already have varicose veins, they can feel much worse in hot weather. As the body tries to cool off, they can bulge and swell even more than normal, which is what causes the additional aching, throbbing and swelling around the ankles.
Is there a treatment for varicose veins?
Varicose veins can present themselves in many ways, each of which may require different forms of treatment.
If your varicose veins aren’t causing you pain or discomfort, you probably don’t need to have treatment. If you struggle with varicose veins already, you may already know that there isn't much you can do except lie down, sit with your feet up or use compression stockings to relieve the discomfort.
Many people find it difficult to wear compression stockings at the best of times and we often hear complaints that they’re even more uncomfortable in hot weather. Staying hydrated and as cool as you can may offer some relief too, but all these tips will only offer short term relief. Seeking out medical treatment is one of the only ways to resolve the issue in the long term.
We offer Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) for varicose veins and spider veins, and we’re one of the largest centres in the UK for laser varicose vein treatment. EVLT is a non-invasive laser treatment which quickly removes varicose veins, minimises pain and recovery time. It is a walk-in, walk-out treatment with no overnight stay required.
Published on 07 June 2020