Varicose Vein Myths

Doctors discussing Myths About Varicose Veins

Reports of varicose veins can be found in medical journals dating back as far as the Roman Empire. Over the last two millennia people have come up with some pretty crazy ideas about veins. These vary from what causes them, what they tell you about yourself and how to treat them.

Clearly, nobody wants to have dark-purple varicose veins bulging from their thighs, legs or ankles. Nevertheless, around 50% of adults do and they just keep getting more prevalent as we age.

While most of the dubious wives tales have fallen to the wayside, there are still some common misconceptions out there. Let’s examine the 4 most persistent myths.

Myth #1: Varicose Veins are Caused by Crossing Your Legs.

Women's crossed legs after varicose vein treatment

While this might seem to make sense to someone with a basic understanding of varicose veins, it isn’t true. Varicose veins occur when blood gets trapped in a vein causing internal pressure to build; however the external pressure exerted on the veins when you cross your legs is minimal. Similarly, wearing tight shoes or tight pants have very little impact on bad veins.

Crossing your legs and wearing tight clothing can aggravate varicose veins if you already have them. However, it is not the cause. The most likely cause of varicose veins are defective valves or weakened walls in the vein. These cause internal pressure, which works very differently than external pressure. When blood cannot make its way back to the heart, it will pool in areas of the veins, causing them to swell. Crossing your legs or wearing restrictive clothing does not pinch the vein.

Myth #2: Surgery Is The Only Treatment Option For Varicose Veins

Surgery isn’t the only option to get rid of varicose veins since there are many home remedies and medications that can relieve varicose veins.

  • Varicose Veins can be treated with options like compression stockings. These are special type of clothes that will apply pressure on your veins to reduce their size and inflammation.
  • Another medical option for varicose veins is sclerotherapy. This is a non-surgical effective procedure with less risks than surgery.

Myth #3: Varicose Veins are Not Very Dangerous

Varicose veins are something you should never ignore. Many people think they are only a cosmetic problem.

This is not true.

If ignored for too long, varicose veins may start causing you pain and sometimes this pain can be unbearable.

Varicose veins can progress to cause the following symptoms:

  • Swelling
  • Blood clots
  • Discomfort, pain, heaviness, and aching in the legs
  • Change in skin color
  • Increased chance of tissue injury with minor trauma
  • Increased possibility of severe bleeding with minor skin injury like shaving or a small bump

Myth #4: Only Elderly People Have Varicose Veins

While the likelihood of having varicose veins increases with age, they are very common in adult men and women.

There’s an increased potential of having varicose veins if you:

  • are a smoker
  • stand for long periods
  • are pregnant
  • are overweight
  • have had a previous circulation issue
  • have a family history of varicose veins

Massaging varicose veins can make them disappear.

False. Massaging varicose veins will not make them disappear. In fact, massaging varicose veins can potentially worsen the condition by increasing pressure on the veins. It’s important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of varicose veins.

Wearing high heels causes varicose veins.

There is some truth to this statement. Wearing high heels can contribute to the development of varicose veins, especially if worn for prolonged periods. High heels can affect blood circulation by limiting the movement of the calf muscles, which helps pump blood back to the heart. This can lead to increased pressure in the veins of the legs, potentially contributing to the formation of varicose veins. However, wearing high heels is just one of many factors that can contribute to varicose veins, including genetics, age, gender, pregnancy, obesity, and prolonged standing or sitting.

Losing weight can prevent or cure varicose veins.

There is some truth to this statement. Losing weight can help prevent varicose veins or reduce their severity in some cases. Excess weight puts added pressure on the veins in the legs, which can contribute to the development of varicose veins. By losing weight, individuals can reduce this pressure and improve overall circulation, potentially alleviating symptoms of varicose veins. However, weight loss alone may not cure varicose veins, especially if there are other underlying causes such as genetics or lifestyle factors. It is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and treatment options.

Compression stockings worsen varicose veins over time.

Myth. Compression stockings are often recommended as a conservative treatment for varicose veins. They help improve circulation by applying gentle pressure to the legs, which can reduce swelling and discomfort. Wearing compression stockings as prescribed by a healthcare professional can help manage varicose veins and prevent them from worsening over time.