Venous conditions like varicose veins have the potential to be both embarrassing and painful. Varicose veins, characterized by protruding, discolored blood vessels can also lead to additional skin damage and blood clots.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to the diagnosis and care of varicose veins. Over 30 percent of Americans have varicose veins – this means lots of people want to talk about them, and naturally, myths will spring up in some circles that get circulated far and wide. Here are five varicose vein myths, debunked.
- Spider Veins and Varicose Veins are the Same
While the two conditions are similar, varicose veins and spider veins are not the same. Spider veins are generally red or purple in coloration, and they more commonly can go without specialized treatment. Varicose veins, on the other hand, are blue in color and larger in size than spider veins, creating a noticeable bulge in the vein.
- Varicose Veins are Only a Cosmetic Problem
While varicose veins are indeed a cosmetic problem for those who have them, this is far from their only drawback. Other problems associated with varicose veins include:
- Clotting: Poor circulation as a result of malfunctioning valves can cause blood to pool up and clot.
- Swelling: Fluid buildup can cause swelling in the legs, a condition called edema. People with edema are at an increased risk of bacterial and fungal infections in the surrounding tissues.
- Ulcers and Sores: Stagnant blood in the blood vessels can cause ulcers or sores to develop.
- Bleeding: As the veins become swollen and weak, they are more likely to hemorrhage (burst) and cause bleeding
- Crossing Your Legs Causes Varicose Veins
There are some myths out there about what can cause varicose veins, and about what can make them worse. Perhaps the most common varicose vein myth out there is that you can develop them simply by crossing your legs—this is totally false. Varicose veins are a result of weakened and damaged valves, something that is not caused in any way by crossing your legs.
In addition, some patients subscribe to the belief that exercise makes varicose veins worse—the opposite is actually true. Exercise increases blood circulation, which helps prevent varicose veins and also promotes your general health. While we do recommend wearing compression stockings during exercise to prevent pooling if you’re dealing with varicose veins, exercising is positive.
- Only Women Develop Varicose Veins
While some believe only women can get varicose veins, the numbers clearly prove this incorrect—in fact, 56 percent of men deal with varicose veins. Genetics are indeed often a factor in their development, but gender does not play a role.
- Varicose Vein Treatment is Painful and Expensive
Patients often assume that treating varicose veins is extremely expensive, but many treatments are covered by insurance, as they are not purely cosmetic. Recovery times are quick and don’t cause you to miss work.
In addition, lots of patients worry about pain when it comes to varicose vein treatment. But the treatments themselves are not painful, as your vein specialist can explain to you.
- Even if I Get Treatment, My Varicose Veins Will Come Back
Patients may feel that there is no point in treating varicose veins—they’ll just come back eventually, so why bother? Although this may have been true in previous generations, modern medicine makes this a big myth today. Modern treatments, particularly endovenous thermal ablation treatment (using a laser therapy to help fix both the vein issues and the underlying causes), have shown an ability to permanently affect varicose veins. Most patients who use this treatment do not need additional treatments in the future.
Your vein specialist can offer further recommendations on varicose vein treatment, and can help you steer clear of common misconceptions.
“7 Myths About Varicose Veins.” Vein Clinics of America. https://www.veinclinics.com/blog/7-myths-varicose-veins/
“Varicose Veins: More Than a Cosmetic Concern.” Mayo Clinic.