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How do saunas affect varicose veins?

This question was asked in Jay, New York and has 7 answer(s) as of 08/30/2013.
I have very large knotty looking varicose veins behind my knees and purple spots on my ankles that my doctor says are also varicose veins. The varicose veins give me no problems. I enjoy lying in a sauna at 180F perspiring profusely and find that a sauna temporarily removes the varicose purple spots on my ankles. My question is whether or not saunas are good for varicose veins.


Doctors Answers (7)

The heat from the sauna very effectively dilates the veins (which is why your skin appears red after exposure to heat) and can help move venous blood at the ankle which normally has slow circulation associated with varicose veins. There is no clear medical consensus or scientific studies to show saunas are a problem with varicose vein,s but if you are getting temporary relief than I think there would be no harm to continue. After a treatment to close varicose veins, we will restrict exposure to hot water including the sauna, jacuzzi, bath, etc. to avoid dilating the veins that were just closed for about 1 month. Short warm showers are allowed. At 4-6 weeks after treatment, there is again no restrictions on taking a sauna, jacuzzi or bath.

A very hot sauna may place one at some risk for a heart attack or a heat-related event. Immersion of the lower extremities into a deep pool of water will compress the soft tissues and veins and will assist in moving tissue fluids back into the bloodstream and out of the tissues of the lower exttemities. This occurs in swiming pools at normal swimming temperatures. I am not aware of a beneficial effect of high temperatures on the varicose veins, but warmth often eases discomfort in aching legs.

High ambient temperatures, i.e. SUMMER, usually increases vasodilatation, swelling and worsening of leg symptoms in patients with varicose veins. Saunas can transiently reproduce the symptoms mentioned above.

We don't know for sure but we think they may worsen varicose veins because of the vasodilation they cause.

Saunas make no difference to the natural history of varicose veins.

Anything that improves blood flow is good for varicose veins, but there is a lot more that needs to be considered and evaluated. Please call for appointment so we can get a long term plan in place.

Extreme heat dilates veins and would tend to aggravate varicose veins. Balance the pleasure you get from a sauna vs. the potential for making your veins worse.

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