Varicose Vein Mythbusting: Don't Fall for These Common Vein Misconceptions
So many myths have sprouted up around varicose veins that it’s sometimes difficult to know the truth. Here’s your guide to common misconceptions and why they’re wrong.
It’s estimated that up to 73 percent of women and 56 percent of men in the U.S. will experience varicose veins in their lifetime. As is often the case with such a widespread medical condition, many misconceptions have sprouted up about varicose veins. Rather than let these myths prevent you from seeking treatment, you should know the truth.
To dispel those falsehoods, we’ve compiled a list of the most common varicose vein myths. By separating fact from fiction, you, along with a vein specialist, can decide on your best treatment option to banish prominent varicose veins on your legs and feet.
The Top 5 Myths About Varicose Veins
The visible signs of varicose veins are obvious: bulging, twisting veins appearing on the legs. Less well-known are the exact causes of the condition, and that’s what may lead to these frequently circulated myths about varicose veins.
- Varicose Veins Are Only a Cosmetic Issue. Although it’s true varicose veins and spider veins may not cause noticeable symptoms and can register as merely a cosmetic nuisance at first, the unsightly protruding veins could be a sign of more serious, underlying medical issues — most commonly, venous insufficiency. Varicose veins have also been linked to a higher incidence of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a blood clot in the leg that potentially could travel to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. Further, having varicose veins increases the chance of developing slow-healing skin ulcers. That’s in addition to the uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins such as swelling, pain, cramping, throbbing, and “heavy” legs. If those symptoms begin to interfere with your daily activities or keep you up at night, then varicose veins have progressed from a cosmetic issue to one that requires medical intervention.
- Crossing Your Legs Causes Varicose Veins. No, crossing your legs doesn’t cause varicose veins. Neither does wearing tight-fitting clothes or shoes. These actions put a slight amount of external pressure on your legs, but don’t cause varicose veins. Varicose veins develop because internal pressure on the leg veins which arises from defective vein valves. When these valves malfunction, blood becomes trapped inside the vein, forcing the vein walls to bulge outward and pop up from under the skin as a varicose vein. However, if you already suffer from varicose veins, snug clothing and footwear may worsen the symptoms.
- All Varicose Veins Are Visible. Varicose veins develop in both the superficial and deep veins of the leg. Because superficial veins lie closer to the skin, you notice them more. Yet varicose veins also develop within the deep leg veins. Covered by thick fatty tissue, varicose veins in these deeper veins may not be visible. Nevertheless, you may feel the symptoms associated with varicose veins, including pain and leg swelling. Anytime you experience unusual or painful leg symptoms, you should see a vein specialist to determine whether the problem is a varicose vein hidden from sight.
- Surgery Is the Only Cure for Varicose Veins. In the past, invasive surgery, which “stripped” the varicose vein from the leg and required a hospital stay, was the only treatment option. Not so today. Current treatment methods are much less invasive and done on an outpatient basis. Using little to no anesthesia, current procedures involve either a safe agent (like a sclerosant or adhesive) injected into the vein or heat therapy (a laser or radiofrequency waves) pulsed into the vein. The damaged vein then collapses and eventually disappears, while blood diverts to healthier veins. As with any surgical procedure, you’ll discuss with your vein doctor which one matches your individual situation, how to prepare for the operation, and what to expect during the recovery period (which is typically very brief).
- Varicose Veins Are Inevitable. Varicose veins tend to strike older people as well as individuals with a genetic predisposition to the condition. But that doesn’t make them inevitable for everyone in those high-risk categories. If you know you are at risk, you can take preventative measures to maintain your vein health and delay the onset of varicose veins.
Staying active, for one, builds up the calf muscles, thereby supporting the veins as they pump blood to the heart. Regular exercise also keeps your weight at its proper level so you avoid the excessive pressure carrying extra pounds puts on the veins. Another tip: buy a pair of compression stockings. These tight elastic garments compress the leg veins and encourage maximum blood flow.
Let Us Treat Your Varicose Veins
The doctors and staff at the Center for Vein Restoration specialize in treating varicose veins with the latest techniques. We review each patient individually and counsel them on their treatment options to find a solution that works best for their needs. We’ll also discuss risk-reduction measures and other ways to lessen the pain and unsightly appearance of varicose veins. Contact us today for an appointment.