Often considered a problem affecting only older adults, varicose veins can also impact younger people, often with emotionally distressing results.
Varicose veins can affect people of all ages. While the condition is more common in older adults, it can also affect younger people, particularly those who spend long periods sitting or standing or have a family history of the condition.
According to the AHA Journal Circulation, approximately 23 percent of US adults have varicose veins, translating into 22 million women and 11 million men between 40 to 80 years old.
Yet, despite its prevalence in the population, there remains a stigma surrounding varicose veins, particularly among young adults.
Should young people get their vein disease treated?
Absolutely, even during one’s teen years. The shame associated with having an “older person disease” can prevent younger people from seeking help or having treatment. Left untreated, varicose veins can cause open sores (ulcers), skin discoloration, leg pain, and blood clots.
“It is a myth that young people can wait to get their vein disease treated until the symptoms get really bad. It’s important to address vein disease symptoms when they occur (in young people) because pathology tends to damage the lymphatic system. They will start to have swelling, skin discoloration, and other vein disease complications. If we don’t see a patient until they’ve gotten older and have already developed sequelae (complications from vein disease), we will not be able to get them to baseline most of the time.” – John Rossi, MD, Center for Vein Restoration physician, Mechanicsburg, PA
Varicose veins, mental health, and teens
In addition to the harmful consequences of unchecked varicose veins on the body, problem veins can also impact mental well-being. Self-consciousness about the appearance of varicose veins can cause some individuals to alter their behavior or way of dressing, taking great pains to cover their legs in public.
According to an NIH National Library of Medicine study, “Many negative body image experiences, particularly dissatisfaction, stem from the internalization of cultural ideals of appearance, particularly the westernized ideal body type.” In the case of varicose veins, they are considered an “older person” disorder. This negative body image can contribute to low self-esteem and diminished confidence.
Young people who feel shame about their problem veins may stop participating in activities they enjoy. They may stop wearing shorts to the gym or avoid going to the gym altogether. They may give up public swimming pools, steer clear of the beach, or even drop out of social situations altogether.
Therefore, eliminating the embarrassment and shame surrounding this condition is essential.
Breaking the stigma surrounding varicose veins is crucial in encouraging young adults to seek help and treatment.
Reducing “varicose vein shame” for young people
Breaking the stigma surrounding varicose veins in young adults is essential to encourage them to seek help and treatment. By providing education, promoting positive body image, and providing access to high-quality medical care, we can help young adults overcome embarrassment or shame and address their varicose veins.
Information about vein disease, its causes, and treatment options are vital in reducing the shame and embarrassment many people feel about their varicose veins.
Focus on health
Encouraging young adults to focus on their overall health and well-being rather than just the appearance of their veins can help reduce the stigma surrounding the condition.
Hang out with positive people
Spending time with others who are comfortable with their bodies reduces negative body image. Researchers from the University of Waterloo, Canada, found that spending time with non-body-focused individuals had a positive impact and can be helpful to our own body image.
Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) vein specialists can help young adults overcome embarrassment or shame and address their varicose veins. Ultimately, this can help improve their overall health and well-being and prevent the condition from causing further problems.
Schedule an appointment with a caring vein expert
Our board-certified vein physicians
are both highly qualified and compassionate. Using their vast experience, they can help young patients overcome the stigma surrounding varicose veins by providing education and office-based treatment (if warranted). Treatment at CVR is covered by most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid.
To schedule an appointment with a CVR vein specialist, call 800-FIX-LEGS (800-349-5347). You can also book an appointment ONLINE.