Does Obesity Cause Varicose Veins?

Obesity, which is commonly known as being overweight, is a condition of excessive fat deposits in this body. It makes losing weight very tough and does not let you overcome many health issues. Obesity can be caused by inherited, physiological, environmental factors and eating habits. Obesity can cause many health issues such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and risk of certain cancers. Along with these direct health effects sometimes obesity may affect your body indirectly such as; varicoses. So, in this article we are going to identify does obesity cause varicose veins in actuality? How and what are the remedies for it?

Symptoms of Obesity

Whether you have obesity or not this can be identified by applying some diagnosis methods such as Body mass index and Waist to height ratio.

Body Mass index (BMI)

This is a widely used method to measure body fat and healthy weight in comparison to your height.

BMI Measurement for Adults as:

BMI below 18.5 – Underweight

Between 18.5 to 24.9 – Healthy weight range

Between 25 to 29.9 – Overweight range

From 30 to 39.9 – Obese range

40 or above – Severe obese range

For Asian, Chinese, Middle Eastern, Black African or African-Caribbean family background the overweight and obesity range should fall under:

Between 23 to 27.4 – Overweight

27.5 Or above – Obese range

This NHS given statistic is correct but there can be some exceptions. For example, a person who is a bodybuilder is going to have a high BMI count due to his/her heavy muscular body.

BMI Measurement for Children:

Different methods are used while calculating BMI for children. Here in this method the child’s height and weight are shown in percentiles.

BMI below 5th percentile – Underweight

Between 5th to 85th percentile – Healthy weight

Between 85th to 95th percentile – Overweight

95th percentile or above – Obesity

Waist to Height Ratio

Another useful method to measure body fat is by calculating Waist to height ratio. This method is usually used for adults who have BMI under 35. To calculate this:

Find the lowest rib and your hip bone. This should be leveled with your belly button. The middle point should then be wrapped around with a tape to measure. Keep the breathing normal and do not hold your tummy in. And finally take the measurement and divide that with your height (Measurement unit should be the same).

For example, for an 80 cm waist a 160cm tall guy will have 0.5 Waist to height ratio.

Waist to height ratio of 0.5 or higher than that is risky.

Causes of Obesity

There are many causes that can lead you to obesity. One of the main causes is calories. Excess calorie consumption can store excess fat in your body and lead you to obesity.

Eating more foods than actually required for your body can lead you to obesity. Obesity caused by eating more foods has a direct connection to the calorie surplus and storing excess fat in the body. Not only foods but also drinking too much alcohol can also lead you to obesity.

The 2nd reason behind obesity is genetics. Your genes can affect how your body digests and uses food. You may eat normally but if your body does not use calories in the proper way and stores a maximum amount of it then this can lead you to obesity.

Another reason for obesity is medicine. Medicines for birth control pills, antidepressants, antipsychotics and steroids can make you gain weight.

Another underlying cause of weight gain can be some health conditions such as underactive thyroid gland which is commonly known as hypothyroidism. However, this type of condition can be controlled with medicines.

Eating disorder can also cause you to gain an excessive amount of weight and fat. If you have an eating disorder which is a mental health issue can make you eat more which makes it difficult to lose weight.

Some additional causes includes:

  • Quitting smoking – many people may gain some amount of weight during the earlier period of quitting smoking.
  • Stress, anxiety, not sleeping well and feeling sad.
  • Menopause
  • Unhealthy diet and foods.

Does Obesity Cause Varicose Veins?

The veins present in the legs carry the blood flow backward to the heart. In this way the venous blood moves against the gravity. The action becomes more complex when there is any stretch, stress or obstacle in carrying blood and this can cause varicose veins. Now let’s understand how does obesity cause varicose veins.

Primary cause of obesity is being overweight. Excessive body weight puts pressure on the veins that causes varicose veins to form. The excess fat puts pressure on the veins and squeezes the walls of the veins and damages the valves. This stops the valves from keeping the blood flow normal to the heart through the veins. When the valves stop flowing blood this causes accumulation of excess blood in one place of the vein and blood waits to circulate to the next part of the vein. This causes the veins to dilate and stretch until the veins come to the normal state. This results in bulging veins which slowly over the time causes varicose veins.

Does Obesity Cause Varicose Veins

Varicose veins can be caused by age and gender too. It has been seen that women are more prone to varicose veins.

Some other causes can be pregnancy or if you have a family history of varicose veins then you might experience this as you grow old. Prolonged sitting, inactivity, smoking and high blood pressure can also cause varicose veins.

Symptoms of Varicose Veins

  • Bulging and bluish veins – Bluish veins caused by bulging get visible below the skin surface of your legs, ankles and feet.
  • Twisted veins – Swollen with rope like twisted veins can be noticed under the skin surface
  • Heavy feeling legs – After every physical activity you may feel heavy legs with tired feeling.
  • Pain – You may have muscle cramp, pain in the leg muscles especially behind the knee area.
  • Change in Skin Color – If the varicose veins are left untreated then this can cause ulcers (sores) on your skin and change the skin color that looks little brownish.
  • Itching – In few cases you may feel itching and burning discomfort around the areas where the veins are present in your legs.

Varicose Veins Can be Unknown to You

Sometimes it may happen that you have varicose veins but you do not know about it. Sometimes it may happen that you don’t experience any pain. Also hidden under the excess leg fat the varicose veins may not be noticed. Some symptoms such as heavy legs, throbbing or cramping leg pain, swelling, changes in the skin color and visible blue veins can be indications of having varicose veins. If you notice these symptoms in your legs then you must visit the doctor.


Fortunately there are many treatments available to treat varicose veins. These treatments reduce the effects of varicose veins and relieve discomfort.


In this method you need to elevate your legs above your waist several times a day to increase the blood flow in veins and muscles. Since this increases the blood flow in the veins, this helps to relieve pressure from the veins. By doing this exercise you can also reduce the leg pain caused by varicose veins.

Elastic Stockings

Elastic stockings can help you to reduce discomfort in legs caused by varicose veins. This reduces discomfort by compressing your veins. This in turn reduces stretching of your veins and boosts regular blood flow.

Laser Therapy

In this method a catheter and a laser is used to close off smaller varicose or spider veins and damaged veins.

Injection Therapy

Also known as Sclerotherapy, in this therapy a health care provider will inject you a solution. This solution will help veins walls to stick together. Eventually, your veins’ color slowly fades away. This therapy is mostly used for spider veins and also helps to seal off the damaged veins.


This process is also called ligation and stripping. In this process the surgeon stops blood from pooling by tying off the affected vein in your legs. Varicose veins may reappear and in those cases surgeons may also remove the veins by making small punctures. This process is known as Ambulatory Phlebectomy.

In most of the cases you do not need to visit the doctor again and again, varicose veins get faded away and disappear after a few weeks but in few cases you may need to visit the doctor for repeat treatments. In those cases surgery might be the only method that can relieve the patient from the pain caused by varicose veins.

Prevent Varicose Veins by Losing Weight

Does obesity cause varicose veins? The answer is yes and this has been the main cause of varicose veins among many. Since the main cause of varicose veins is obesity hence, it is simple to understand that losing weight is the best way to prevent varicose veins from appearing. Along with reducing chances for the appearance of varicose veins, a healthy weight is also good for reducing many other health issues. A healthy weight can be achieved through leading a healthy lifestyle which includes a healthy diet and exercise. All these help to reduce or maintain weight which in turn prevents you from experiencing varicose veins. This is also helpful for maintaining symptoms of varicose veins.

Your diet should include fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat meats and avoid eating high carb sugary foods, foods with high fat, processed foods and beverages.

Exercises should include walking, running, stair climbing, biking and swimming. Along with losing weight all these help you to circulate blood in your legs.

Small Tips

Right Amount of Sleep

Many studies have proven a connection between sleep and obesity. Less than 5 hours and more than 9 hours of sleep can cause you obesity. Incorrect amount of sleep can generate craving for eating junk foods which can make you gain weight. Hence avoid irregularities in sleep to avoid obesity.

Move Your Body

When you move your body parts the blood gets circulated in that part. Similarly when you do exercise or do any kind of physical activity this can improve blood circulation and muscle tone in body parts. This relieves blood pressure on the veins which lowers the chances of varicose veins.

Since, veins get pressurized even when you sit for long hours hence instead of sitting for long hours if you take small breaks and walk for some time in between, can help you relieve pressure on the veins and makes the blood circulation better.

Avoid Eating Comfort Foods

Comfort foods are the foods that cheer you up. These tasty foods such as processed foods and beverages can make you feel happy and eat more but this can make you gain more weight. These foods contain sugar and carbohydrates. Instead of eating these foods you must eat healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables, high protein foods and whole grains. Foods low in salt and rich in fiber and antioxidants are great for fortifying the vein walls and prevent any ve-nous issue.

Does Obesity Cause Varicose Veins? I hope you got your answer. According to the NIH report, the USA has 42.4% people who are suffering from obesity and the count is increasing day by day. Gaining an excess amount of weight puts pressure on veins and increases the chances of varicose veins. Obesity is associated with many other health risks too. The most effective way to manage this is by reducing weight. You can always try other methods and treatments to manage varicose veins but along with those if you don’t put effort on losing weight then there is a high chance that you might end up in pain.

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