Your body is an incredibly complex machine. From running to standing to sitting to even swimming, your body is pumping a lot of blood through your veins. A series of valves helps continuously move blood throughout the body in conjunction with various muscles. But if these valves begin to weaken, the blood pressure in the veins will rise, which will cause the veins to appear twisted and bulging. If you notice this condition, you may have varicose veins.
Varicose veins are prevalent for many people, with 23% of Americans living with this condition. However, there is still a lot of misinformation about what it entails and who it affects. To ensure you’re getting the right information, let’s debunk 10 myths about varicose veins.
1. Varicose Veins Only Affect My Appearance
Many people believe varicose veins are solely a cosmetic issue and will seek to have them removed because they look unsightly. However, a significant segment of people will experience physical discomfort and pain due to this condition. Symptoms may include:
- Restless legs
If left untreated, varicose veins can lead to even more severe issues like blood clots, infections and ulcers.
2. Varicose Veins Exclusively Affect Women
While varicose veins tend to be more common in women, men are still susceptible to this condition. Some theorize this condition’s prevalence in women results from pregnancy, which causes rapid weight gain and hormonal fluctuations. However, this is still a topic of debate.
Women who experience varicose veins during pregnancy can often expect them to fade away after delivery. Women who already have varicose veins may want to seek treatment before pregnancy, as carrying a baby to term may exacerbate varicose vein symptoms.
3. I’ll Get Varicose Veins When I Get Old
Varicose veins tend to occur more often in people between 40 and 80 years old. However, not everyone will have to deal with this condition, and not everyone who experiences varicose veins falls within this age range. There are cases of people getting varicose veins in their early 20s and even their late teens. Though your age doesn’t influence whether you eventually get varicose veins, the condition can worsen in older people, especially if left untreated.
4. Varicose Veins Are the Same as Spider Veins
Varicose veins and spider veins are not identical health issues. Typically, spider veins are primarily a cosmetic issue and are harmless compared to varicose veins. You can identify spider veins based on their signature “spidery” look, where thin clusters of veins congregate right below your skin. Spider veins and varicose veins can result from similar conditions. So even if you believe spider veins are your only issue, it’s best to get checked out by a professional to ensure you don’t have varicose veins.
5. If I Had Varicose Veins, I’d See Them
While varicose veins appear directly below the skin in many instances, sometimes they may hide away deeper in your body. Varicose veins’ visibility will depend on your body structure and how much fatty tissue is present.
If you find yourself feeling symptoms that may result from varicose veins, but you can’t see any on your skin, you may wish to schedule an appointment with a cardiologist.
6. Exercising Will Make Me Get Varicose Veins
Exercising does not cause varicose veins to occur — being active can even prevent the condition from occurring. Varicose veins often develop due to weight gain or standing and sitting for long periods. By keeping yourself active, you can maintain your healthy body weight while also ensuring your legs don’t stay still for long stretches.
If you already have varicose veins, engaging in some exercises while wearing compression stockings can help ease symptoms. But not every type of exercise is beneficial for people with this condition, so make sure to check with a professional about which activities you can engage in.
7. Changing My Lifestyle Won’t Help
While overhauling the way you live your life won’t cure you of varicose veins, healthier choices will at least make the condition more tolerable. Staying at an unhealthy weight and smoking can make varicose vein symptoms unbearable, but engaging in regular appropriate exercises with compression stockings and keeping your legs elevated while quitting smoking may help ease the symptoms.
8. Surgery Is My Only Choice for Treating Varicose Veins
Previously, surgery was the only way to treat varicose veins. But thankfully today, people have various options to try. Normally when people first get diagnosed with varicose veins, the first thing their doctor recommends is to start implementing healthier lifestyle choices and engage in compression therapy in order to deter or reduce symptoms. If lifestyle changes and compression therapy fail to treat the condition, a physician may suggest the following remedies.
- Ablation: Closing the vein completely to reroute the blood supply to a healthier vein
- Phlebectomy: A minimally invasive procedure that removes the varicose veins from the body
- Surgical stripping: Similar approach to a phlebectomy but more invasive
9. It’s Challenging to Recover From Vein Surgery
With a wide range of ablation treatments, a professional can treat your varicose vein, then you are free to engage in typical activities a half-hour later. Today, it’s relatively rare for people to engage in invasive surgical procedures to treat their varicose veins.
10. It Is Possible to Prevent and Cure Varicose Veins
While it’s true many lifestyle choices, therapies and procedures can help you avoid varicose veins, there is no guaranteed way to prevent or cure them. Unfortunately, you can work out consistently, eat a healthy diet and still get varicose veins anyway. And once you have them, there is no known cure — only treatment.
But even if you have varicose veins, you shouldn’t give up hope. Many people with varicose veins live active and full lives through proper treatment.
Talk to a Professional
As you now know, you have a lot to consider when dealing with varicose veins. If you have varicose veins or are curious to learn more, speak with a cardiologist today. If you’d like to learn more about our practice, read our providers’ bios.
This article does not provide medical advice. It is for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you need cardiovascular care, please call us at 832-644-8930.