What the Yuck: Ugly varicose veins
October 21st, 2011
09:35 AM ET

What the Yuck: Ugly varicose veins

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: I'm in my 30s and I already have ugly varicose veins in my legs. Why did I get them, and how can I get rid of them?

As we age, the valves in our leg veins become weaker, allowing blood to leak backward and pool, leading to those lovely blue and purple bulges. Pregnancy and hormonal shifts (like those caused by being on the Pill) can increase your chances of getting ’em, as can having family members with the same affliction (thanks, Mom!).

Varicose veins tend to be harmless, though they may cause aches and pains—and if you have redness or swelling, see a doctor, as this could indicate a blood clot.

The most effective (if not very sexy) way to prevent new varicose veins from forming is to wear compression support stockings, which can also ease any discomfort.

Other tips to try: Get more exercise, try not to sit or stand for long periods (and don’t cross your legs when you sit), and avoid clothes that are super-tight in the waist, groin, or legs.

Unfortunately, these moves won’t erase those twisty bluish adornments for good - for that, you’ll need to see a vein specialist.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.