Vain commuters beware: Standing for long hours can increase the risk of unsightly leg veins.
Long subway rides were part of nearly every New Yorker’s commute—until the pandemic hit and workers worked from the comfort of their offices at home.
While working remotely has had its benefits, many are now dealing with varicose veins and varicose veins while transitioning from sedentary lifestyles back to normal routines.
Dr. Danielle Bajakian, a vascular surgeon and director of the Columbia Vein Program, said she has seen an increase in patients seeking treatment for chronic venous insufficiency, which often causes varicose veins.
“It’s not because they had COVID,” said Dr. Bajakian said in a statement. “It’s because of the major lifestyle changes people have had across the country.”
With prolonged sitting comes a number of health hazards, including varicose veins and varicose veins – enlarged veins that can be caused by prolonged standing or sitting for extended periods of time and unfortunate genetics.
Being in one position, whether sitting or standing, causes gravity to “pull the blood down,” said Dr. Mason Mandy, a board-certified surgeon and the chief medical officer at Metro Vein Centers in Manhattan.
“Anytime someone is in one place without moving for long periods of time – that’s when they can develop vein problems,” said Dr. Mandy told The Post, adding that standing up, especially during a long run, can be a culprit.
It’s a double-edged sword: Lounging in your home office won’t do you any favors, he explained, but neither will an hour-long subway commute.
while Dr. Mandy has seen an increase in patients since pandemic-era restrictions were eased, he said it’s hard to say exactly why — or to blame it on back-to-office orders.
“This could very well relate to commuting,” he said. “A lot of our patients who come in and say, ‘I stand for an hour at a time on the subway every day,’ or ‘I sit on a bus or stand on a bus for an hour and a half each way.’
Although not life-threatening, varicose veins can be a source of discomfort and embarrassment due to their bright, purple-blue color. Spider veins, the smaller cousin of varicose veins, are often just a cosmetic concern.
For Lisa Conigliaro, who considered herself an active, healthy 58-year-old, her sudden, debilitating pain seriously affected her daily life.
“When I tried to go to bed at night, I wouldn’t be able to sleep,” Conigliaro, who lives in the West Village, told The Post. “I would have to get up three, four or five, six times a night.”
She was a typical New Yorker – she worked in fashion as a stylist and in retail, she carried hundreds of pounds of clothes – and she lived many days on her feet. But she has spent more than a decade hiding her legs behind trousers, even in the heat of summer, because of how “ashamed” she was of her visible veins.
“I’m a very vain person, literally, no pun intended,” she added with a laugh, and the veins, which made her legs feel like they were bound in “cinderella blocks,” made her feel self-conscious.
“I had no confidence,” he admitted.
While the appearance and formation of varicose and spider veins comes down to the genetic jackpot, getting your blood pumping is key to preventing them for as long as possible.
Dr. Mandy recommends a holy trifecta for warding off bulging, purple veins: compression stockings, leg elevation, and regular exercise. But for those who already suffer from them, treatment is usually non-invasive injections or laser therapy — depending on the person.
The Conigliaro procedure performed by Dr. Maddy was painless and quick, she said — and now, she said, she has “beautiful” legs that she doesn’t mind showing off. She was so happy she started “crying” when she left her house wearing a skirt after ending a decade of avoiding them.
“Last year was the first summer I showed my legs in over 10 years,” she said. “You don’t know how excited I was.”
“I just wanted to show off my legs,” she added. “It was so wonderful.”