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Myths v. Facts about Varicose Veins

October 5, 2022

Varicose veinsStruggling with painful, overgrown veins in your legs? Tired of the bulging, twisted appearance and unsightly spidering? As common as varicose and spider veins are, there remain plenty of misconceptions about them. Here’s what you need to know and when to seek treatment for varicose veins. 

Myth: Varicose Veins are Harmless

Fact: While varicose veins are certainly ugly, fixing them is more than a cosmetic concern. When left untreated, they can progress into Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). As the name suggests, this disease causes insufficient circulation, which contributes to limb pain, ulcers, and skin damage. Some patients also experience restlessness and weakness that interfere with their sleep and exercise. 

Myth: Varicose Veins and Spider Veins are the Same Thing 

Fact: Both varicose veins and spider veins stem from the same root cause: a malfunction of the valves that prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities. However, spider veins are less serious, albeit a warning sign for varicose veins. These are the bluish-purple spiderweb-like veins that can be seen just below the surface of the skin.  

By contrast, varicose veins are bulging, twisted veins that cannot return blood to the heart. The vessel walls have been damaged as the valves allow blood to pool. Varicose veins can easily progress into more severe health issues. 

Myth: Varicose Veins Only Affect Women

Fact: The primary risk factors for varicose veins are age and genetics, and both men and women can develop them. Those who work jobs in which they’re frequently walking or standing are even more susceptible to vein disease. 

Being overweight and obese is another risk factor, as there is more weight on the lower extremities. Many pregnant women develop varicose veins due to their additional weight. Also, people may be less active if they are overweight. Regular exercise boosts blood flow and can help prevent vein disease. 

Myth: Compression and Elevation Can Treat Varicose Veins

Fact: Compression and elevation are excellent remedies for swelling or pain due to overexertion or injury. Unfortunately, they do not treat varicose or spider veins. Some people observe that their symptoms abate when they wear compression stockings or elevate their feet. However, any relief will be temporary until the damaged veins are sealed off and proper circulation is restored.  

Varicose veins are more than a cosmetic issue. In fact, they require treatment to resolve pain and prevent progressive vein disease. Treatment is now relatively simple and painless, and often, it’s covered by insurance. 

Reach out to us at Well Life Family Medicine to learn about our vein treatment options.

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