Many people who are overweight or obese want to know if they should lose weight before they undergo varicose vein treatment like laser treatment or sclerotherapy. It’s also common for these same patients to ask questions like, “Will losing weight heal my varicose veins?” or “Can I avoid varicose vein treatment if I lose a lot of weight?” The answers to these important questions are answered below.
Let’s start with the first question about whether or not it’s important to lose weight before you have varicose vein treatment. Losing weight would potentially lower your odds of developing a blood clot after the procedure — by a little. However, if you will pardon the pun, you must “weigh” that against other factors.
It’s important for you to understand first and foremost that once your vein valves are damaged, and venous reflux (backward flow of blood) has set in, no amount of weight loss is going to change this. Even if you weigh 300 pounds and you lose 150 pounds, this dramatic weight loss will not repair your leaking vein vales. Likewise, once vein walls are stretched, weakened, and warped, they are generally damaged for good. No amount of weight loss is going to magically repair them.
So, there is really no advantage to waiting until you lose a significant amount of weight before you have varicose vein treatment, except slightly better odds on not developing a post procedure blood clot. However, the odds are so low for blood clots to begin with (for most people), it’s still probably better for most people to go ahead and have the procedure but you should discuss this thoroughly with your doctor before you make the final decision.
On the other hand, once you do have varicose vein treatment, your legs won’t feel so heavy and achy all the time! Therefore, you’ll feel better and it will be much easier for you to exercise and lose weight AFTER you have varicose vein treatment than before. This is another good reason for most people to not delay having varicose vein treatment until they lose a significant amount of weight.
Now, let’s discuss the question about whether or not losing weight can heal varicose veins. The short answer is “No” but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Losing weight can certainly help to slow down the progression of varicose vein disease. This can “buy you some time” if you’re not quite ready to have varicose vein treatment. It can also prevent additional varicose veins from forming before or after you have varicose vein treatment. For the same reason, it can prevent you from having to have additional varicose vein treatment in the future.
Not all extra weight is equal when it comes to improving vein health and delaying and or preventing varicose vein disease (and improving your odds of not developing blood clots). Belly fat is far worse than fat on your arms, hips, and thighs. This is because abdominal fat (belly fat) puts extra pressure on your pelvic veins through which the blood from your leg veins drain the blood headed back to the heart. If you have a big belly, a “traffic jam” of sorts can occur in your pelvic veins which can back blood up in the legs. This can cause blood to pool in your legs and cause your leg veins to varicose. So, if you’re trying to lose weight, put some extra effort into losing belly fat to help your leg veins.
Here’s something else very important to consider. About ninety percent of your leg veins are buried deep in your leg muscles. These deeper veins are the work horses in returning blood back to the heart. Muscles in your legs squeeze on them and help these work horse veins return the blood. So, losing weight is not necessarily the most important goal you should set for improving your leg vein health. At least equally important is strengthening your leg muscles and building more muscle in your legs as this will make it much easier for these deep veins to return blood to your heart. In this regard, very simple tip toe calf muscle exercises can do a world of good to improve your leg vein health! Working the thigh muscles can help too.
Before you develop a good overall vein health plan, you really need a duplex ultrasound of your veins to know exactly where you stand. You can get a free vein evaluation at Metro Vein Centers. Just give them a call to set it up (they have several locations throughout the United States). Metro Vein Centers is a well respected varicose vein treatment clinic. Many doctors refer their patients to them for specialty vein treatment because they are the best of the best. Good luck with improving your vein health. It will greatly improve your overall quality of life!