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How Obesity Affects Vein Health

Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30. Obesity affects vein function adversely in several ways. BMI is calculated using one’s height and weight and can be computed by looking up BMI on the computer. Overweight is defined as a BMI score of 25-29.9.

How Does Obesity Affect Vein Health?

Obese people tend to walk flat footed rather than off the ball of their foot. This decreases the pump function of the foot and the calf. In addition, the fat of the leg impedes venous outflow. Abdominal fat also increases intra-abdominal pressure, increasing resistance to venous outflow further. All of these factors impede vein function, making swelling and eventual skin changes more likely.

Overweight patients’ problems can be exacerbated by wearing tight or constricting garments or high heels. Add a sedentary lifestyle or prolonged travel in a constricted space and there is an increased risk of deep vein clots. Obese and overweight patients are also at a higher risk for DVT during abdominal, pelvic or orthopedic operations.

Obesity Affects Vein Health
An unhealthy, inactive lifestyle can lead to obesity and other health conditions that increase your risk of developing vein disease.

"I have had leg swelling for years and I never knew that I could do anything about it."

— Martin C.

Key Tips to Help Obese Patients

  • Lose weight in a smart, sustained fashion—No fad or starvation diets. These don’t work. Aim for a slow weight loss of 1-2 pounds a week on a diet that can be sustained.
  • Choose low-impact exercises to protect the knees, hips and back. For weight loss, it is best to exercise in the morning before breakfast; exercise goes directly to burn fat. The elliptical machine, bike and water exercises are excellent. Weight training builds muscle, which is our calorie burner.
  • Avoid constricting garments—This includes girdles and Spanx®, especially when traveling.
  • Wear knee-high graduated compression, except while sleeping.
  • Stay well hydrated and avoid sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.
  • Avoid high heels if up on one’s feet for long periods. They eliminate the foot and calf pump.

Why Should You See Vein Doctors if You’re Obese?

If you struggle with your weight and fear your vein health may be at risk, reach out to one of our vein doctors. If you see swelling or a pinkish or brownish discoloration on the inside of your lower leg and/or ankle, you already have significant vein disease, even if you don’t see varicose veins. A VVC specialist can help you decide on the best course of treatment and health plan to reach a healthy weight and decrease future vein problems.

Do you have the warning signs and symptoms of vein disease?

Take this short, five-question quiz to find out if you’re at risk.

Do you have the warning signs of vein disease?

1

Do your legs often feel tired and heavy?