How Can You Treat Varicose Veins Caused By Decades Of Weightlifting?

Health & Medical Articles

Lifting weights can be a great way to build muscle, boost metabolism, and keep your bones healthy (especially important for pre-menopausal women). However, decades of lifting weights on a regular basis can often lead to unsightly spider and varicose veins for some lifters. What are your best varicose vein treatment options? Should you modify your lifting regimen to reduce the load on your veins? Read on to learn more about the cause and treatment of this condition.

Why are weightlifters at specific risk for varicose veins?

Varicose veins are the external indication that the walls of your veins have weakened enough to allow blood to pool in lower portions of your body rather than travel back to your heart. While they can appear alarming, they don't generally indicate any health problems. Still, you may want to have these veins repaired to improve function or decrease their appearance on your legs and feet.

Often, varicose veins are simply a function of age. However, they may be more common (or occur at younger ages) in those who lift heavy weights on a regular basis. By increasing the amount of weight on your leg veins while simultaneously performing a strenuous activity that requires quicker blood flow, you can place a significant amount of strain on your veins and cause them to prematurely age and weaken. 

What are your best varicose vein treatment options?

One treatment option that is gaining popularity is sclerotherapy. This process permanently eliminates varicose veins by closing off the vein from your blood supply completely. As the blood pooled within the vein eventually dissipates through the rest of your body, the vein reduces in size so that it is imperceptible beneath the surface of your skin. Although the thought of permanently killing off a vein can seem alarming, these veins are already failing to serve their purpose by allowing blood to pool in your extremities, and away from your heart. Sclerotherapy is usually performed on an outpatient basis and, while some patients have reported discomfort during the procedure, few have found it to be very painful.

Another good option for varicose vein treatment is laser surgery. Like sclerotherapy, laser surgery closes off the vein and allows the blood within to return to your heart after filtering through the other veins and capillaries in your legs. During the procedure, you may feel a stinging sensation -- some have described laser vein treatment as feeling like a rubber band snapping on your skin. However, you'll quickly notice a major difference in the appearance of your legs and other extremities.

Should you avoid weightlifting after having varicose veins treated? 

If you fear your varicose veins were caused, at least in part, by years of lifting heavy weights, you may be tempted to remove this from your exercise regimen to avoid a recurrence of this condition. However, there are a few things you can do to modify the way you lift weights without placing additional strain on your veins.

First, you'll want to wear a supportive belt and compression tights. These tights are often used after surgical procedures to aid in circulation and help prevent blood clots. You'll also want to avoid lifting extra-heavy weights. While occasional ultra-heavy lifting shouldn't cause much damage, long-term frequent pressure on these veins may cause a recurrence of your varicose veins.

Finally, you'll need to take frequent breaks and focus on how your body feels after lifting. While varicose veins are fairly harmless, if you're getting them frequently or at a young age, they could indicate that you need to begin paying more attention to your heart health. 


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