Going on holiday when you have varicose veins

Concerned that your varicose veins may be bothersome on the flight or while you are away?  Cooden Medical Group has some advice.

There is often some concern about flying with varicose veins, probably because of the association with deep vein thrombosis (DVT). A DVT is a blood clot in one of the deep veins and there is an increased risk of this occurring when you spend long periods of time not moving – such as on a long haul flight. Having varicose veins should not in themselves stop you from flying long-haul but they may be an indication that there is a problem with your veins, which could mean that you are more at risk of developing a DVT. It might be wise to get an ultrasound scan of your legs to rule out any underlying problem.

Even if your varicose veins are just cosmetic I recommend that you wear compression stockings throughout the flight. These will help to stop the blood pooling in your veins and minimise swelling. You should also be as active as possible – get up and walk around every 30 minutes or so and while you are seated, move your feet and ankles. It’s also important to keep well-hydrated so drink plenty of water throughout the flight and save the tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks for when you land. Too much alcohol is particularly harmful as it tends to dehydrate you, making a DVT more likely.

If you are going to a warm country then you may find that your veins are more uncomfortable in the heat. Keep your bedroom as cool as you can and you may find it helps to soak your legs in cold water before turning in for the night. During the day try to intersperse time on your feet with periods where you can elevate your legs – a sun-lounger by the pool is ideal as long as you remember to get up and go for regular walks or swims!

If you are thinking that you would like to get your veins treated before you go away then you will be reassured to know that minimally invasive procedures such as EVLA, which uses a laser, means that there is very little recovery time. You can walk into the clinic and walk out again straight after and as the treatment only involves a couple of tiny incisions, they will heal very quickly. Providing there are no complications you should be able to drive, fly, walk and swim relatively soon after compared to invasive surgery of the past. However, do remember to use high factor sun protection, particularly on any newly-healed skin as this will be more sensitive to the sun.

If you are considering treatment for varicose veins talk to your doctor or consultant about when and where you are going on holiday and he or she will be able to advise on the appropriate treatment and aftercare.