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Common Myths about Varicose Veins

When people hear the term “varicose veins” they often think of the bulging blue veins that are removed through cosmetic surgery. What many individuals don’t know is that, in some cases, varicose veins can cause extreme pain and discomfort if left untreated. To help address common myths about varicose veins and proper treatment, we’ve put together a list of popular varicose veins myths and their counterparts.

Myth #1: Varicose veins are solely a cosmetic issue.

Although some individuals with varicose veins simply want to remove those unsightly lines and improve the appearance of their legs, there are millions who are affected by the look AND pain they can cause.

Some individuals experience swelling, heaviness, burning, cramping, restless legs and/or tingling due to their varicose veins. It’s also not uncommon to have pain or burning in the legs after standing.

Whether they’re unhappy with the way their legs look or are having painful symptoms, it’s important to set up an evaluation with an interventional radiologist to assess options and next steps.

Myth #2: Everyone will get varicose veins as they age.

An estimated 40 million Americans have varicose veins. There are several factors that increase the chance you’ll be one of them — carrying a child, obesity and heredity. However, even with those factors, it’s not a given that you’ll have varicose veins as you age. In fact, sometimes age has nothing to do with developing venous insufficiency — the primary cause of varicose veins.

Myth #3: Varicose veins appear only in women.

Although varicose veins are more common in women, around 10-15% of men are also affected. The higher percentage of women has a lot to do with the pressure and excessive weight that may be experienced during pregnancy.

Myth #4: Running causes varicose veins.

Venous insufficiency is the primary cause of varicose veins. When the valves in the deeper leg veins stop working properly, pools of blood form in the legs. The result is varicose veins. Exercise, no matter the type, is good for circulation and would not be the reason why varicose veins form. In fact, even after a varicose vein surgery, normal exercise is highly recommended to patients.

However, if an individual has varicose veins, the jury is still out on if exercise could make them worse. Either way, compression stockings can help prevent blood from pooling and can be worn during physical activity.

Myth #5: You can always see varicose veins.

Depending on the formation of the legs, sometimes varicose veins are not visible through the skin. This makes it crucial for individuals to schedule a consultation with an interventional radiologist if they’re experiencing pain or discomfort in their legs.

During this consultation, the radiologist will assess if an ultrasound is needed to look for vein reflux. If reflux is present, the radiologist may recommend laser ablation to treat the underlying faulty veins.

Myth #6: Making lifestyle changes won’t have an effect on varicose veins.

Although lifestyle changes will not get rid of varicose veins, they can help ease some of the painful symptoms that an individual may be experiencing. As discussed earlier, weight can have a huge impact on varicose veins — being at a healthy weight can help reduce some of the pressure that may increase discomfort.

Myth #7: Surgery is the only treatment option for treating varicose veins.

Some individuals seek out doctors with the sole purpose of removing their varicose veins. However, surgery is not the only solution. In most cases, when a patient at Wake Radiology is diagnosed with vein reflux, a three-month trial period for conservative therapy is recommended before anything else. During this time, the individual will be required to wear compression stockings to help reduce the pooling of blood in their legs. During a follow-up appointment, the radiologist will determine if the patient can stick with compression stockings or if they need laser ablation treatment.

Myth #8: Recovery after vein surgery can be hard.

Unlike in the past, a full surgical procedure is rarely done to treat varicose veins. Technology has improved treatment options and reduced the time needed for recovery. Today, a laser ablation procedure can take as little as 30 minutes and patients usually return to work and regular daily activities on the same day. After a vein procedure, Wake Radiology’s interventional radiology team encourages patients to remain as active as possible.
Whether you’re experiencing painful symptoms in your legs, or simply dislike the way your varicose veins look, the dedicated vein radiologists at Wake Radiology can help you best determine treatment options. If you’re ready to schedule a vein consultation, you can do so on our website or by calling our scheduling team at 919.232.4700.

Source: Wake Radiology and Everyday Health

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