Young woman using vape to smoke in public places

Does Vaping Harm Veins?

Vaping is widely marketed as a “safe” alternative to traditional cigarettes. Unfortunately, e-cigarettes still have nicotine, as well as substances such as propylene glycol and glycerol. Do chemicals from vaping damage your veins (including those in your legs, which could contribute to conditions such as varicose veins)?

How Do Chemicals from Normal Cigarettes Affect Your Veins?

Smoking is one of the best-known causes of heart disease. It has terrible effects on the circulatory system, which includes veins and arteries.

  • Swelling:

Chemicals in cigarettes irritate the lining of blood vessels. This causes veins and arteries to become swollen and narrow.

  • Blood clots:

Different kinds of cigarette chemicals can cause blood clots to form, potentially causing a heart attack.

  • Artery damage:

Smoking weakens and damages blood vessels, even in teens. This can lead to serious vein problems later in life.

  • Blockage:

Over time, cholesterol and other deposits build up inside veins and create plaque. People who smoke have higher levels of plaque.

If you want to keep your blood vessels in great health, avoid smoking at all costs. Can vaping lead to these same scary effects?

What Do Studies Say About Vein Damage from Vaping?

The truth is that it’s too early to know exactly how the chemicals in e-cigarette vapor will affect cardiovascular health long term. Because e-cigarettes are a relatively new invention, there aren’t as many studies available. Preliminary findings aren’t good, however.

One recent European study found that vaping led to problems in the inner lining of blood vessels. It caused arteries to stiffen, making them more vulnerable to damage. Nicotine, present in all e-cigarettes, is proven to trigger a rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure.

What Effects Do E-Cigarettes Have on Blood Vessels?

What scientists do know is vaping causes swelling in blood vessels, at least temporarily. In one study, blood vessels swelled an average of 34%. In addition, blood flow slowed by over 25%.

When your blood slows, risks of developing varicose veins increase. Pooling blood puts excess pressure on veins, potentially damaging tiny valves that help with normal blood flow. Vaping appears to increase the risk of developing spider veins and varicose veins. If you already have these conditions, vein damage from vaping may make them worse.

Why are Varicose Veins a Problem?

Vaping affects vein health, including leg vein health. Varicose veins also cause significant pain, discomfort, itching, or throbbing. Sometimes, the pain is so bad it’s hard to sleep at night. Varicose veins shouldn’t be a problem for you if you follow the right plan of action.

What Should You Do if You’re Worried About Varicose Veins?

The first line of defense is to prevent spider veins or varicose veins from worsening. This often involves lifestyle commitments or adjustments. Here are some tips that can help.

  • Avoid standing or sitting for extended periods of time
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce the amount of salt you eat
  • Choose shoes with low or no heels
  • Don’t sit with your legs crossed
  • Don’t smoke or use e-cigarettes

To eliminate varicose veins and spider veins completely, you need the assistance of a medical professional.

Contact Northern Illinois Vein Clinic

Our friendly team can walk you through all the treatment options available to you. We provide personalized treatment solutions that include recommendations related to your lifestyle. To learn more, contact us online or call 779-696-8346 right away.

Featured Image: Shutterstock / Eldar Nurkovic

Podiatrist working with patient at vein clinic in Northern Illinois

Ask Your Podiatrist about Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a common condition, affecting up to 35% of the U.S. population by some estimates. That shared experience means people seek us out here at Northern Illinois Vein Clinic in a variety of ways.

Individuals can contact us directly for a screening or consultation if they’re experiencing symptoms of vein disease. Those symptoms include burning, itchiness, and achiness in the legs, or visible/unsightly varicose and spider veins.

Many patients also are referred to us by their primary care or family practice doctors, which is why we work with many Geneva- and Sycamore-area hospitals and health systems to educate physicians about the progression of vein disease and what that looks like.

Another specialty that’s often familiar with vein disease is podiatry. A podiatrist is a physician or surgeon who treats the foot, ankle, and other parts of the leg.

Because podiatrists already observe and treat the feet and legs, they can also refer individuals to us for further consultation and treatment. That means if you talk to them about your symptoms and they understand and recognize vein disease, you can then come to us directly for an ultrasound and to determine the next steps for treatment.

Signs that vein disease may have progressed include if you have ulcers on your legs that aren’t healing or reappear. Doctors will sometimes close or repair these ulcers and then they come back, which could be a sign of venous hypertension/insufficiency. That means the valves that help blood flow through the legs aren’t functioning properly.

Progressive vein disease also could look like darker clusters of varicose or spider veins along the inside of the ankles with associated symptoms of itching or burning, or if the skin feels leathery.

Here’s what we strive to do when educating podiatrists and other physicians (as well as patients):

  • Identify the symptoms of varicose veins.
  • Recognize the progression of vein disease, which will worsen over time if left untreated.
  • Explain that minimally invasive treatment is available and effective (long-gone are the days of painful vein-stripping procedures you may have heard about from your mother or grandmother).
  • Make an appropriate referral to a board-certified vein expert like Rimas Gilvydis at Gilvydis Vein Clinic.

As a reminder, you can reach out to us anytime for more information about vein disease and to request a screening. Don’t hesitate to also ask your existing health care team – a nurse, family doctor or podiatrist – about varicose veins and be honest and open about your symptoms.