One in every four U.S. adults between the ages of 40 and 80 have varicose veins. But considering how common these enlarged veins are, there’s a great deal of misinformation about them.
Varicose veins occur when blood vessel valves don’t work properly, so that the blood being pumped to the heart backs up and collects in the veins – where they become visible to the naked eye.
Questions such as who gets varicose veins and why, along with complications and treatment options are all subject to conjecture when it comes to these unsightly blue, red, or flesh-colored blood vessels typically found in the legs.
Let’s set the record straight by debunking 10 myths about varicose veins:
1. They’re merely an aesthetic issue. On the contrary, many patients with varicose veins can develop symptoms that may include: a dull achiness, throbbing, cramping, and swelling of the legs; severe dryness and itchiness of the skin near the veins; an increased risk for a dangerous kind of blood clot know as deep vein thrombosis; a risk of bleeding, skin discoloration, and ulcer formation.
2. They’re an inevitable sign of aging. While varicose veins worsen with age, not everyone gets them. Genetics play a role, and even a teenager can develop varicose veins. Changes in hormone levels, sun exposure, and being overweight can all lead to varicose veins.
3. Only women get varicose veins. Up to 15 percent of men have visible varicose veins compared to about one-quarter of adult women.
4. You can develop varicose veins by running. Like other exercise, running is good for your circulation. It doesn’t cause varicose veins, although it could make them worse. If you haven’t had your varicose veins treated and are running, you can help prevent blood from pooling in your lower legs by wearing compression stockings.
5. They’re always visible on the surface of your skin. It is possible to have varicose veins that lie deeper in your body. For example, if you have fatty tissue between a muscle and the skin, you may not see them.
6. They’re caused by standing too much on the job. While standing for long periods of time can make your veins work harder to pump blood to your heart, it doesn’t cause the vein damage that allows the blood to back up in the veins. Maintaining good health and being active can help counter the negative effects of a job that requires you to be on your feet for long periods of time.
7. Lifestyle changes won’t affect your varicose veins. Not true. Because obesity can worsen varicose veins, maintaining a healthy weight level and being physically active can help ease symptoms.
8. Only surgery can get rid of them. Having varicose veins surgically removed from the body is no longer your only option. There are minimally invasive procedures – like endothermal ablation – that don’t leave scars. It involves using radio waves or lasers to heat the vein, causing it to close and stop functioning. Another option is sclerotherapy, in which medicine is injected into the veins, causing them to shrink.
9. Recovering from treatment is challenging. Newer treatments for varicose veins have quick recovery times – for example, some procedures take up to 30 minutes, with no recovery time. You can usually return to work or other activities on the same day. Besides, most of the blood flow in your legs is not contained within those surface veins, but in the veins deep within your muscles.
10. There must be a cure for varicose veins. Unfortunately, no. But treatments are effective and worth looking into.
At the Vein Institute & MediSpa in Kingwood, Texas, we’re experts in the field of diagnosing and treating varicose veins. If you’re dealing with this problem and want more information on your treatment options, call us today at (281) 312-0208 to request an appointment, or request an appointment online.