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When discussing varicose veins, one topic comes up again and again: how much does weight affect varicose veins?

Reading online articles about varicose veins, some oft-mentioned pieces of advice are that one should lose weight if they want to prevent varicose vein development—or that one can decrease their likelihood of having varicose and spider veins if they exercise. But are any of those claims true?

As vein specialists in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, we frequently encounter patients who wonder if losing weight could significantly improve the discomfort or appearance of varicose veins.

Given the interest in the subject, in this article, we’ll explore whether dietary changes and weight loss can improve or even cure varicose veins, and the effects obesity might have on the development of the condition. 

Effects of Weight on Varicose Veins

For context, varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that are visible just under the surface of the skin, most often visible in the legs and feet. These veins develop when the valves inside them become weakened or damaged, leading to blood pooling in the veins, and swelling. 

Excessive weight or obesity is a significant risk factor for developing varicose veins. The reason for this is simple: extra body weight puts additional pressure on the veins in the lower limbs. As a result, these veins must then work harder to return blood to the heart. This increased pressure can damage the valves within the veins, leading to varicose veins.

What’s more, obese and overweight people may lead a more sedentary life, spending prolonged periods of time sitting or lying down. This type of lifestyle can result in lower levels of blood circulation and a higher risk of blood pooling, which can worsen symptoms of varicose veins exponentially. 

However, obesity and prolonged periods of standing or sitting are not the only risk factors for developing varicose veins. While they play a big role, other significant factors include age, genetics, whether one is pregnant, and sex.

What Weight Loss Can Do for Varicose Veins

While weight loss does have some positive effects on varicose veins, it doesn’t make them disappear. 

For one, losing weight can significantly reduce the pressure on your veins, which in turn provides relief for some of the symptoms associated with varicose veins, such as fatigue, swelling, pain, and discomfort. 

As weight loss is often linked with physical exercise, this too helps alleviate varicose vein symptoms. When you engage in regular physical activity, such as walking, running, or strength training, you improve circulation and prevent blood from pooling in the veins. 

While weight loss and exercise can strengthen vein health and make symptoms less severe, sometimes patients notice that their veins appear larger when they lose weight. This happens because sometimes weight loss can result in looser skin, making varicose veins more visible. 

However, this shouldn’t deter you. A healthier lifestyle improves overall vascular health, potentially preventing the development of new varicose veins, improving the condition of existing ones​, preventing other types of venous diseases from forming, and much more.

Exercises That Are Easy to Add to Your Everyday Life

If you lead a busy life and struggle to find time to exercise, there are still small things you can do to drastically improve varicose vein symptoms. 

For example, while you’re lying down, try to elevate your legs and rest them against a wall or your bed’s headboard. This simple activity improves blood circulation in the legs. 

Another easy exercise you can do while sitting down is foot circles. You simply sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground, then lift one foot off the floor and rotate it in circles, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Then, repeat with the other foot. This movement improves circulation in the ankles and lower legs, where varicose veins are the most common. 

There are countless exercises like these you can try, no matter what level of physical activity you’re on. We’ve provided some more of these exercises here.

Available Treatments for Varicose Veins

If you’re interested in getting rid of varicose veins for good, medical treatments are the only effective way of doing so. Thankfully, there are many advanced, non-invasive, and low-pain procedures out there for you to choose from.

There are currently a wide range of treatments available to resolve varicose vein issues, with each specific case often requiring its own form of treatment. 

Our Milwaukee, Wisconsin area clinic provides some of the most effective treatments on offer, a list of which can be found here—and by speaking with a vein specialist, we can help you determine which treatments are right for you. 


While dieting and weight loss cannot completely cure varicose veins, they can significantly reduce the risk factors and provide relief for symptoms associated with this condition.

Maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and making lifestyle adjustments are always good ideas, as they improve overall vein health and make further complications less probable.

However, for those who want more immediate and permanent results, medical treatments are available and should be discussed with a healthcare provider.

For personalized advice and treatment, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our vein specialists.