A varicose vein is a large, swollen, purple or blue vein that is visible through the skin. While they are most common on the legs, these unsightly veins can develop on the feet and arms, too. In many cases, the veins bulge out of the skin, displaying dark-colored, twisty bumps on the skin’s surface.
Fortunately, help is available if you or a loved one has varicose veins. This guide and your board-certified vascular surgeon will help you learn the truth about a few common varicose vein myths.
Varicose Vein Myths
1. Varicose Veins Affect Women Only
Varicose veins affect about 23 percent of the population in the United States. Even though they are more common in women, these veins can affect men, as well. An estimated 22 million women and 11 million men between the ages of 40 and 80 have varicose veins.
2. Standing Too Long Causes Varicose Veins
Most varicose veins develop in the legs simply because of gravity. As blood moves through your veins, it has to work against gravity to return to the heart. If the valves in the veins are weak, blood will leak and pool up in the veins. This excess blood will cause the veins to swell and enlarge, resulting in the visible varicose veins.
Standing on your feet too long places excess pressure on the veins in your leg, which can increase your risk of developing varicose veins. However, standing too long is not the only cause or risk factor.
As you age, your veins get weaker. Therefore, older individuals have a higher risk of developing varicose veins. Also, if you are overweight, the excess weight places more pressure on the veins, which can lead to varicose veins.
If you have a family history of varicose veins, you are more likely to develop these unappealing veins. If you are constantly dehydrated, suffer from lung disease, or sit for long periods of time, blood is more likely to pool in the lower veins, which can lead to varicose veins.
3. Varicose Veins Are Cosmetic Problems Only
Varicose veins can negatively affect your appearance. Many people struggle wearing shorts, shorter-sleeve shirts, and sandals because they do not want others to see the veins. Although they do affect your overall look and self-esteem, varicose veins are not just cosmetic problems.
Without treatment, varicose veins can actually be dangerous in some cases. For example, you may develop hyperpigmentation, which is when blood from the veins leaks into the tissues of your leg. This discolors the skin, but it can also cause severe swelling and pain.
Ulcers, which can be painful and irritating, are also common in patients who have varicose veins. The pooling of blood in the veins can weaken the vein, causing the skin/tissue to break down.
Deep vein thrombosis is one of the most serious problems that can occur if you do not treat varicose veins. Deep vein thrombosis occurs is a blood clot forms in the vein, causing a pulling sensation in the legs and painful pinching in the nerves. If the clot travels up towards the heart, deep vein thrombosis can be life-threatening.
4. Treating Varicose Veins Is Painful
Because of the effects and dangers of varicose veins, treatment is wise. Fortunately, you have many pain-free and minimally painful treatment options.
For example, simple changes in your lifestyle may be sufficient for reducing the appearance of your varicose veins. These changes may include wearing compression stockings, exercising, and elevating the legs to strengthen the veins and improve blood flow.
In-office treatments are also available. Endovascular laser therapy uses laser technology to close weak, leaking varicose veins and only causes slight bruising and temporary numbness.
From lifestyle changes to laser treatments, pain-free help is available for your varicose veins. For more information on varicose veins, contact The Vein Centre today.