Vein problems are very common. In fact, 50-55% of women and 40-45% of men in the United States suffer from some type of vein problem. Varicose veins are one such problem and consist of enlarged or twisted veins most commonly found in the legs. Some people do not experience any pain associated with this vein condition, while others note heaviness in the legs, achiness, or itching.
Though varicose veins are common, there is a lot of misinformation about the condition. We’re going to take a look at the most common myths and the truth behind each one.
Myth #1: Varicose veins are just cosmetic
Unlike spider veins, varicose veins can be a serious medical condition. The causes of spider veins and varicose veins can be similar, including genetics, history of blood clots, pregnancy, occupations involving long periods of standing, overweight or obesity, and age; however, the treatment and severity of these two conditions is very different.
Varicose veins are a sign of venous insufficiency and can have serious consequences if left untreated. Varicose veins can lead to blood clots, lipodermatosclerosis, venous leg ulcers, deep vein thrombosis, not to mention increased levels of pain and discomfort. If you think you may have varicose veins, it’s crucial that you speak to your doctor because it is not just a cosmetic issue.
Myth #2: Varicose veins only affect women
While varicose veins are more commonly seen in women, men can suffer from this condition as well. Varicose veins affect about one in four adults in the US, which means about 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 and 80. This myth may be prominent because pregnancy can exacerbate varicose veins, which is why many women are treated for this vein condition.
Myth #3: Varicose veins are always completely visible
While varicose veins often have a bulging look, some occur deeper in the leg as well. Depending on how a person’s leg looks, they might not be completely visible. Those who have a lot of fatty tissue in the leg, between the skin and the muscle, might find themselves with varicose veins that are somewhat hidden. Given this, it’s important to speak with your physician about and signs or symptoms.
Myth #4: Varicose veins only occur in older adults
Many think varicose veins are simply a sign of aging. However, this condition is genetic, which means younger people too can end up with varicose veins that require treatment. Lifestyle also plays a role, so if something looks off, especially in the veins in the leg, no matter what your age, talk to your doctor.
Myth #5: Massage is a treatment option for varicose veins
Massage is certainly a way to decrease the discomfort of varicose veins. Many who suffer from vein conditions have pain or heaviness, and massaging the area can help with the day-to-day aches. However, massage is not a suitable treatment option.
Your doctor will likely recommend a form of laser therapy for the treatment; but, each case is different, so it’s important to talk with your physician about the best course for your individual needs.
Reducing the risk of varicose veins
Unfortunately, for some people, varicose veins are unavoidable; this is because this condition is genetic. However, there are some lifestyle factors that can help you reduce the risk. Maintaining a healthy weight is the first step. Those who are overweight put more pressure on their veins, increasing their risk. Another way to help is to wear compression stockings if you sit or stand for long periods of time. It’s also important to take breaks, move around, especially stretching leg muscles. If you think you have varicose veins or may be at risk, talk to your doctor.