Are Hairdressers at a higher risk of developing Varicose Veins?
Expert on vascular health, Eddie Chaloner, is a consultant vascular surgeon. In this article he highlights the risks hairdressers face from standing up most of the time and work, some preventative techniques and what do if treatment is needed.
Risks, Prevention And Treatment
It is widely believed that people who stand up most of the time at work are more likely to get varicose veins than people who don’t. As a leading varicose vein specialist, I often see hairdressers, teachers, policemen and other patients who have jobs that require them to stand up for most of their working day at the clinic.
Veins are pipes that run up from the ankle to the top of the leg. They send the blood back up the leg and return it to the heart, so that it can be pumped round the system again.
Clearly, in people who stand up a lot, the blood is trying to flow upwards against the force of gravity. Without help, it isn’t going to get there. There are two things that help the blood go the right way up the leg. The first is the muscles of the leg, which squeeze the veins and push the blood upwards and the second is the valves in the veins, which stop the blood sagging back down the pipe towards the feet.
If either the muscles or the valves don’t work, the blood tends to ‘pool’ in the lower part of the leg. The feet and ankles swell up and the lower leg feels heavy, achy and tired, particularly at the end of the day when the person has been standing up for 8 or 10 hours.
So how can hairdressers make their legs feel better at work and prevent worsening of varicose veins?
The first and simplest step is to walk around a bit more. Using the calf muscle squeezes blood out of the veins and pushes it up the leg. Having a walk around every hour or so should make the legs less swollen. Even when standing in one spot, you can contract the calf muscle by flexing and extending your ankle.
The next thing is to try a pair of compression stockings. You don’t need to wear a full leg, very tight pair, just a knee length mildly compressive version will do – ‘flight socks’ should do the trick.
A bit of compression on the calf does help to reduce the swelling and discomfort of the leg. If you do already have varicose veins the stocking also stops them bulging out and it is the bulging and stretching of the vein that creates the problem.
Finally, there is proper definitive treatment for veins by a specialist surgeon. Fortunately, things have improved a lot in the sector over the last few years. Many people remember seeing their parents having vein surgery with the old fashioned ‘high tie and strip’ operation, which was painful and required a hospital stay.
These days advanced techniques, such as endovenous laser treatment, can be done under local anaesthetic (like visiting a dentist) and are now a walk in/walk out procedure for most patients. You wouldn’t need to take much time off work either – you should be back in the salon well within a week after surgery.
Our thanks to Eddie Chaloner, Consultant Vascular Surgeon at Radiance Health for this article.