Warmer weather means short shorts, bathing suits and other fashions designed to make legs the center of attention. If you have varicose veins, you may be less than thrilled. And here’s the thing: They’re not just for Grandma anymore. They can occur in young, fit women, as Olympic gold medalist Summer Sanders discovered.
As a spokeswoman for RethinkVaricoseVeins.com, Sanders, along with Dr. Mark Adelman, chief of vascular surgery at New York University Medical Center, shares her tips for vein-free, healthy legs.
SheKnows: When did you first realize something wasn’t right with your legs?
Summer Sanders: I first noticed it about three-quarters of the way through my pregnancy. I saw my varicose veins and thought, “Oh my gosh, I am my mother now!” For me, varicose veins always had the face of someone who was older than me. It’s why I think the title of the campaign, RethinkVaricoseVeins.com, is so perfect, because we do need to rethink it. This isn’t our mother’s condition. The average age of the patient is 35 or so. I really knew I needed to do something about it after two days of walking around at Disneyland. Afterward I hopped in the car and had to stop two times on the way home, the nagging pain in my legs was so unbearable.
SheKnows: Who’s most at risk for varicose veins and how can they become a serious health issue?
Dr. Adelman: It usually starts with a predisposition. Usually someone in the family has chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which means the veins are not efficiently bringing blood back to your heart, usually due to faulty valves in the legs. People who spend a lot of time on their feet (doctors, athletes, etc.) are prone to it. The blood starts to back up, which wells up in your legs, making them feel heavy and tired. Once this happens, varicose veins develop, which may result in itchy skin and, if left untreated, open sores (possibly due to proteins leaking out of your blood, causing your body to react).
SheKnows: What’s the solution?
Summer Sanders: First, get it taken care of before it gets really bad. If you find yourself massaging your legs at the end of the day or your legs feel heavy and fatigued, get checked. Don’t wait!
Dr. Adelman: Treatment used to involve old-fashioned surgery with general anesthesia and a lot of incisions. But now it’s all minimally invasive, done under local anesthesia, and you’re able to resume normal everyday activities on the same day. You walk out of the office, usually with elastic stockings. The only restriction is to avoid heavy pounding (such as running) for a week, but that’s about it.
Summer Sanders: The procedure takes about an hour, which is great when you have kids because you don’t need to worry about child care. It ends up being a gift, actually, because you literally have to sit with your feet up for a couple of days.
For further information about CVI or varicose veins, visit RethinkVaricoseVeins.com.