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Is It Safe to Travel With Painful Varicose Veins?

Is It Safe to Travel With Painful Varicose Veins?

Traveling with painful varicose veins is uncomfortable and possibly miserable if your symptoms are severe. 

Whether it’s safe depends on several variables, such as your overall health, existing vein complications, and how long you need to sit during your travels.

Kishore K. Arcot, MD, FACC, at Memphis Vein Center has a crucial recommendation that applies to everyone, despite those variables: Seek a consultation before traveling if you have varicose veins, especially if they’re painful.

A preventive care exam reassures you that travel is safe despite painful varicose veins. Or if we find underlying problems, we can treat any that would put your health at risk. Either way, you can travel without worry.

Health risks related to varicose veins

Painful varicose veins don’t always pose a risk to your health, but they’re a solid sign of underlying problems that are often responsible for complications.

Varicose veins develop when damaged valves allow blood to accumulate in the vein (chronic venous insufficiency), making the veins engorged, gnarled, and bulging.

These unsightly and sometimes painful varicose veins are visible signs that blood flow is too slow and you have high pressure in the leg veins, problems that can lead to the following complications:

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Sluggish blood flow is one of the top causes of blood clots. When the clot occurs in varicose veins near the skin’s surface, it’s called superficial thrombophlebitis (phlebitis).

Though phlebitis alone isn’t dangerous, it may cause inflammation and pain. It’s also a red flag that you’re at risk for blood clots in other veins.

Deep vein thrombosis

You have deep vein thrombosis (DVT) when a blood clot develops in the deep veins running through the middle of your leg. The clot can become dangerous if it breaks apart, travels through your bloodstream, and blocks an artery in your lungs.

The risk of forming a DVT is the primary reason travel may not be safe if you have painful varicose veins. Keep reading to learn why.

How travel leads to vein complications

Leg muscle contractions are essential for pushing blood through the leg veins. Traveling often means spending a long time sitting. Inactivity limits leg muscle movement, slowing blood flow and causing a new DVT or aggravating an existing clot.

Prolonged sitting, especially when you stay in the same position, also increases venous hypertension. As the pressure rises, your varicose vein pain may worsen, and the risk of DVT rises.

If you’re flying, your chances of developing vein problems — whether sluggish blood flow, painful varicose veins, or blood clots — are higher.

In pressurized plane cabins, you inhale less oxygen. Reduced oxygen slows blood circulation. 

Planes also have low humidity, which leads to dehydration. Water loss thickens your blood, another factor that dramatically increases blood clots.

Preventing varicose vein complications when traveling

The best way to prevent complications is to schedule a vein assessment. Using safe, painless ultrasound, we can quickly see venous blood flow, determine if you have signs of clots or blockages, and treat any problems.

You can also take the following steps to prevent vein problems when traveling:

When traveling on a plane, try to get an aisle seat. It allows for more movement and stretching than window or middle seats.

Expert care for varicose veins and vascular conditions is available at Memphis Vein Center in Memphis, Tennessee. Call our office or use online booking to schedule a vascular exam before it’s time to travel.

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