Is it possible that certain type of clothing can form varicose veins or is it just a myth? In truth, the answer is somewhere in the middle. Clothes themselves cannot form varicose veins, but if you already suffer from vein-related issues, unsuitable clothing will not only have an aggravating effect, but it will also make your legs feel a lot less comfortable.
Varicose and spider veins are becoming one of the most common chronic conditions in North America – 20-25 million Americans have varicose veins. There are various risk factors that contribute to the formation of varicose veins, including genetics, increasing age, obesity, being female, multiple pregnancies, prolonged standing or sitting, limited physical activity, high blood pressure, etc. Typically, the more of these factors combined, the higher the risk of developing varicose veins. Most varicose veins start with some venous insufficiency – this happens when your vein valves don’t work properly or your vein walls are too weak. The blood can’t flow from the legs to the heart and it pools in the legs, which results in the formation of varicose veins or their enlargement. Some risk factors are hard to beat – how fiercely can you really fight genetics or gender? But choosing the right kind of clothing, or even footwear, can greatly contribute to your personal feeling of comfort.
The most comfortable clothes will typically also be the least constricting for your veins – what a dream world where we can all walk around in PJ’s or sweats! But since most of us don’t live in that kind of utopia, loose fit pants will do. Tights and leggings are fine too as the material is elastic. If you got lucky enough to live in warmer climates, wearing a skirt or a dress would definitely make you feel at ease. You might experience some discomfort in skinny jeans or tight pants in general – especially if the material is tough and not stretchy. Pants that are too tight around your waist can also increase the abdominal pressure which constricts healthy blood circulation. The most aggravating clothes for veins were probably worn years ago, when women dressed in constricting corsets and girdles, but I assume that’s no longer our case, right ladies?
I’m glad you asked. Improper footwear can do a lot of damage not only to your feet, but also your veins. And yes, I am talking about high heels. Wearing high heels will not cause varicose veins but if you are already experiencing some vein issues, it can make it worse. The problem with high heels is that they change the natural walking motion and shift the weight to the fore foot and toes. This eventually leads to pooling of venous blood in the leg because of insufficient circulation in the foot and calf. We all love heels because they make our legs look longer, skinnier and more beautiful, but maybe it’s time to contemplate whether they’re worth all the swelling and cramping once you take them off.
I know they sound like something your grandma would wear on a double date to a Bingo game, but they are a blessing in disguise, and you would actually be surprised how neat modern compression stockings can be. Compression stockings are supposed to compress your legs and thus support healthy blood circulation. The pressure on the legs, but mainly ankles is quite significant; it compresses the surface veins and arteries, so that more blood can return to your heart and less blood is allowed to pool in your feet and calves. In other words, these elastic babies will not only cover and hide your varicose veins, but they will also make your legs feel much lighter and reduce the eventual swelling and cramping. There’s a huge selection of compression stockings on the internet these days, depending on the pressure of the stockings (from light pressure to very strong), various lengths (from knee-high to the top of the thigh), and also numerous colors and materials – even the light sheer ones that will go well with a dress. It takes a little bit of time to make the right measurements of your legs, but most websites that sell compression stockings have their own measuring charts which are very accurate. Just pick some light material and the right color for your outfit!
Clothing and footwear on its own will not turn your smooth legs into a county road map, but if you are already developing venous insufficiency or varicose veins, wearing proper clothes, shoes and compression stockings can slow down the process significantly. If nothing else, your legs and feet will feel more comfortable and relaxed at the end of a busy day.