A regular exercise program may be the most effective treatment for varicose veins. Veins are supposed to contain valves that keep blood from backing up. When the valves cannot close properly, veins become varicose, blood backs up and causes the veins to widen and look like blue snakes underneath the skin. Since varicose veins swell because blood pools in them, the best treatment is to empty blood from the veins. When you exercise, your leg muscles alternately contract and relax, squeezing blood toward the heart. Running, walking, cycling, skiing, skating and dancing are ideal treatments, while standing or sitting increase blood pooling and widen the veins. People with varicose veins should not stand around for a long time. You should wear support hose when you stand or walk slowly, but you don’t need them when you exercise.

Varicose veins are caused by a genetic weakness in the valves or an obstruction of blood flow, which may be caused by obesity, pregnancy, tumors, clots or heart disease. Superficial varicose veins that you can see can cause a feeling of heaviness or aching, but they are rarely painful. If you hate the way large veins look, a surgeon can remove them, but most varicose veins are best left alone. Special injections and laser burning remove only small veins.

Checked 3/9/14