Does Obesity and Weight Affect Varicose Veins?

What is overweight or obesity?

People with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more are considered obese. People with a BMI of 25 to 29 are categorized as overweight.


Problems of obesity and health:

It is common knowledge that being overweight and obesity associated with various health problems such as coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, sleep apnoea and osteoarthritis.

Another common condition associated with being overweight is the development of varicose vein disease.

Overall approximately 50% of people develop varicose veins at some point in their lives, however this is more common in those that are overweight.


Why does being overweight associated with the development of varicose veins?

We are often asked why being overweight produce varicose veins. Essentially this is due to increased pressure on the veins causing them to fail by causing the valves inside the veins to weaken and break. The other, connection is those who are overweight or obese do not get enough exercise, somewhat reducing circulation, allowing blood to pool in the veins, increasing pressure within them.

Varicose veins generally develop from known truncal veins relatively deep within leg, namely the great saphenous vein, small saphenous vein and anterior accessory saphenous vein. Of course other veins can be the source.

Typically, these veins fail and lead to failed side branches both of which can then be seen at the skin surface.


I cannot see any varicose veins. How do I know they may be present and producing problems?

In those people of larger body size, although these veins may not be visible, they may still be large and symptomatic producing discomfort, heaviness, burning sensation in the calf, night cramps, leg rash, leg swelling, fatigue and restlessness in the legs.

As they are not visible, people often do not think about veins as a cause for the leg pain and tribute the discomfort and other symptoms to their weight.

Generally only when symptoms become severe or secondary changes develop such as visible varicosities at the surface, skin discolouration, ulcers or itchiness do patients seek help.


Can the veins reduce in size with weight loss?

Once the veins have developed, weight loss cannot reverse their presence or size but would help in limiting the formation of other new varicose veins in the future.


I lost weight and now my veins are more visible!

Sometimes, as a person loses weight, as the surrounding tissues decrease in size, varicose veins can become more obvious. Some people think that their veins have developed from losing their weight (especially those who have had quite marked weight loss) but this is not the case, that just become more noticeable.


What do I do if I think I may have varicose veins?

To determine whether varicose veins is causing these presenting issues, an ultrasound (duplex scan) is usually performed, this being able to see within the leg, and determine whether there is any venous disease, and if so, its size, distribution and severity.

If venous disease is discovered, this “vein map” can then be used by the treating physician to determine whether any therapy is required and if so the best form of therapy.

Fortunately, modern non-invasive means of therapy are well suited to treatment of these veins, virtually irrespective of the patient’s size.


Please let us help!

If you are unsure whether you have varicose veins or have some of the symptoms as listed above, raising the possibility of non-visually obvious venous disease please give us a call and organise an appointment.

We can work with you to confirm or exclude venous disease as a cause. If they are visually present causing discomfort, we can discuss your particular venous issue, discuss options and create an individualised treatment plan if required. The venous disease that you have may well require reassurance only with no treatment required.

To make an appointment today to have your venous disease assessed by Dr Berman, please phone 9561 5155

Comments are closed.

Recent Posts


Specialist Vein Care in Melbourne
provides state of the art techniques in the diagnosis & treatment of varicose & spider vein diseases