Varicose Vein Creams and Gels: Do They Work?

Varicose veins can be unsightly and painful. There are numerous surgical and non-surgical treatment options to help with varicose veins. One of the non-surgical options includes the use of creams or gels, but do they actually work?

Key takeaways:

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins, sometimes called spider veins, are enlarged and twisted veins that become visible underneath the skin. Although they can occur anywhere, the most common locations are the legs and feet.

They are caused by increased pressure within the veins causing them to enlarge and impairing the valves within the veins from preventing backflow. These enlarged veins can become visible underneath the skin and are called varicose veins.

The causes of varicose veins are likely multifactorial. Increased pressure within the veins due to pregnancy, constipation, a tumor, or obesity can cause the development of varicose veins. A family history of varicose veins, a previous blood clot in the legs, older age, an inactive lifestyle, and long periods of sitting or standing increase the risk of varicose veins.

Creams or gels for varicose vein

Varicose vein creams and gels are topical products that are applied to the skin overlying the affected area. These creams/gels can be obtained from the local drugstore to high-end shops, ranging from being inexpensive to costing up to $500 a jar. They typically contain various moisturizers, vitamins, and herbal components.

Do they work?

Using these creams or gels regularly can help to moisturize and increase the firming properties of the skin. Because of this, they can improve the appearance of varicose veins and help relieve some of the pain and other associated symptoms.

However, these creams do not penetrate deep enough into the skin to treat the underlying cause of the varicose veins. Despite using these creams, the varicose veins can worsen over time if not treated properly.

Can creams/gels prevent varicose veins?

Although some creams claim to prevent varicose veins, it is simply not true. There are many factors, some you can control and others you cannot (i.e., genetics), that cause varicose veins. Thus, despite a meticulous preventative regimen, varicose veins can still occur.

Keeping the skin hydrated and healthy can help reduce the visibility of varicose veins and provide some relief of symptoms. However, they have no effect on the valves within the veins and thus can not prevent the development of varicose veins.

Should I use varicose vein creams/gels?

There is no question that these creams provide some beneficial effects on varicose veins. However, their inability to treat the underlying cause makes it imperative to seek consultation with a vein specialist to determine if more aggressive measures should be taken. In addition, the specialist may recommend additional treatments that can supplement and increase the effectiveness of these creams/gels.

Varicose vein creams and gels can help to decrease the visibility of varicose veins but do not treat the underlying cause. Their use will not prevent the development or the worsening of varicose veins. Discussing your symptoms with a vein specialist to determine the appropriate treatment strategies for your varicose veins is essential.

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