With more eating and less exercise during lockdowns, many of us are battling unwanted post lockdown COVID kilos. However, our newly sedentary lifestyles have also seen an increase in the appearance of varicose veins, or worsening of existing varicose vein symptoms, according to leading Australian phlebologist (vein doctor) Dr Peter Paraskevas.
“More Australians are working at home, sitting on their computer all day, not walking to work, have stopped their normal exercise routine they use to engage in and are eating and drinking excessively,” says Dr Paraskevas, of Vein Health Medical Clinics in Sydney and Melbourne.
“This is referred to as sedentary activity, which is having a negative effect on blood flow through the legs, leading to worsening symptoms of varicose veins. When you’re sitting at a computer that doesn’t allow for much movement for hours at a time, the veins’ valves can become weakened and varicose veins can develop if you also have a family history of venous disease.”
What are varicose veins?
According to Dr Paraskevas, Most of us have a picture of what varicose veins look like. They are typically those large, lumpy, bulging surface veins that stick out above the surface of the skin.
However, varicose veins can refer to any abnormal vein that is visible on the surface of the skin and can look blue or green in colour and occur in large networks.
What are the symptoms you should look for?
Symptoms include aching and heavy legs; tiredness; burning, itching and throbbing, even eczema and ulcers. Left untreated, it can lead to more serious complications like deep vein thrombosis.
Do I need varicose veins?
Your body doesn’t actually need varicose veins. Once the veins have shut down or become abnormal, they stop returning blood to the heart, as veins are designed to do.
Can anyone get them?
Varicose veins usually run in families. If one parent has varicose veins, you have about a 33 per cent chance of developing vein problems; if it’s both parents, this increases to about 90 per cent.
How to reduce your risk
- Keep your legs and veins healthy with regular exercise, particularly walking or jogging. Take a 20-minute walk at your lunch break, followed by some stretching.
- Maintain a healthy weight, which reduces the pressure on your legs
- Elevate your legs for a few minutes on work breaks.
- Wear compression stockings to support your veins and help promote normal blood flow.
- Treat your varicose veins. “The most important thing is to have your varicose veins assessed properly via an ultrasound scan,” advises Dr Peter Paraskevas.
How do I get rid of them?
In the past, varicose veins removal required surgery and a hospital stay. But now you can walk into a clinic, have them permanently treated in less than an hour, then walk out of Vein Health Medical Clinics Sydney (British Medical Association House, Macquarie Street) and Melbourne (Sofitel Suites, Collins St).
Vein Health Medical Group is part of the Paras Clinic Group.