Varicose veins are more common than you may think. In fact, up to 35% of Americans are affected by them and they become more prevalent with age.
Perhaps you’re concerned about varicose veins. It seems that most people have an opinion on what causes them, who gets them, and what you can do about them. Unfortunately, there are many myths circulating and it can be difficult knowing what’s false and what’s true.
Don’t worry, because this article unveils 5 common myths about varicose veins that simply aren’t true. So, let’s dive in and take a closer look.
Crossing your legs causes varicose veins
Let’s dismiss this old wives’ tale for good. Most of us have heard that crossing our legs when we’re sat down, whether it be on the sofa or the bus, will cause varicose veins. This is untrue. Crossing your legs, wearing tight shoes or even tight pants will not cause varicose veins, although it’s likely to aggravate the situation if you already have varicose veins. Crossing the legs doesn’t cause sufficient pressure to damage the veins. Instead, bulging veins are more likely the result of weakened vein walls or defective valves within the veins.
Being pregnant gives you varicose veins
As if there wasn’t enough to worry about during pregnancy, varicose veins are another bodily change to add to the list for around 40% of women. Varicose veins typically occur during pregnancy due to added pressure on the circulatory system from the uterus which causes blood to back up as it makes its way back from the legs to the heart. The good news is that these veins usually improve or disappear once a woman has given birth, meaning there’s no need to seek treatment.
Only women get varicose veins
Sorry, guys! Men can also get varicose veins (although they are more common in women). Certain factors increase the risk of varicose veins, in including:
- Family history of varicose veins
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Advancing age
- Standing for prolonged periods without moving
Varicose veins usually appear in the lower legs of men and aside from their appearance, other symptoms are:
- Cramps at night
- Aching legs
- Swelling in the lower legs
- Lower legs and feet feel heavy
There’s no need to wear compression stockings after vein treatment
While non-invasive vein treatments are performed on an out-patient basis and have you back on your feet before you know it, compression stockings are critical to recovery.
Some patients will experience bruising, pain and limitation of some physical function in the early days following their treatment. Studies have shown patients who wear compression stockings consistently after vein ablation experience less bruising and pain than those who don’t and return to physical functionality way quicker. This is because compression stockings help move blood through the veins even if one-way valves aren’t functioning to the best of their ability. Helping prevent pooling is particularly important when blood is being re-routed around a vein that has been recently sealed and directed through a new vein. In these early days of recovery, veins need all the help they can get. Some patients may need to wear compression stockings for up to six weeks following their treatment.
Vein treatment is painful
You may have heard horror stories of vein stripping resulting in weeks of recovery and patients being left permanently scarred, but thankfully those days are gone. Minimally invasive treatments such as vein ablation utilising laser or radiofrequency to close the vein incur little or no discomfort, take around 20 minutes, and patients can return to work and normal activities the next day.
Is it possible to avoid varicose veins altogether?
Truthfully, you may not be able to avoid getting varicose veins. If one of your parents has varicose veins there’s about a 40% chance of developing them; and if both parents have this disease this figure skyrockets to an alarming 90%.
However, we have a couple of tips to help you delay their arrival or make them less pronounced.
Watch your weight
Being overweight places more pressure on the body and can raise your risk of developing varicose veins or worsening their appearance. Try to maintain a healthy body weight – your body will thank you.
If you have a sedentary lifestyle then make a conscious effort to get up and move around and elevate your legs whenever possible. If your job involves sitting behind a desk for prolonged periods then try and stand up every now and then.
Regular exercise or movement will help improve circulation and vein health.
If you know you’re going to be sitting for a long period such as during a flight, then it’s wise to wear compression stockings for the duration.
If you have concerns about your vein health then please call our office for a complimentary vein screening appointment. Our doctors have extensive experience in treating varicose veins and provide a variety of non-invasive vein treatments. Call MINT today for an appointment. We have 5 convenient locations for patients to choose from, including our most recent addition in Chicago IL.