Varicose veins in the legs are a very common medical issue affecting both men and women, particularly in middle age. Women, however, are impacted more than men, likely due to hormonal factors.
Varicose veins are damaged blue or purple veins visible beneath the skin and they may bulge, swell, or become twisted. They occur due to failure of the one-way valves within the leg veins and/or weakening of the vein walls. This causes blood to flow backwards due to gravity and pool in the lower legs and ankles; it can also leak into the tissues adjacent to the damaged vein.
Many factors contribute to developing varicose veins, including (but not limited to) ageing, genetics, hormonal contraceptives, pregnancy, menopause, being overweight, standing or sitting for long periods, chronic venous hypertension, lack of exercise, and a prior injury to the leg.
There are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and old wives’ tales relating to varicose veins. It’s important to understand the facts.
11 Biggest Myths About Varicose Veins
Varicose Veins Only Affect Older Women
The likelihood of experiencing varicose veins grows with age, but they affect people of all ages and even young adults can (and do) develop this condition. As many as 60% of adults have some level of venous damage and varicosity. It is particularly more common in younger women, possibly due to the influence of oestrogen, a female hormone.
Men Don’t Get Varicose Veins
Women are indeed four times more likely to have varicose veins than men, however, men do experience the problem as well. Medical research results suggest that more than 40% of men will develop venous disease by their 60s.
Varicose Veins are only a Cosmetic Issue
Yes, varicose veins are certainly a cosmetic issue – but they are also a medical issue. (Only spider veins are considered medically insignificant and purely a cosmetic concern.) Other types of varicose veins can impact your health and wellbeing and cause swelling, pain, and discomfort. They have a propensity to bleed or bruise easily if bumped, can damage the overlying skin, and will worsen over time. They also increase the risk of developing a superficial blood clot.
Spider Veins are Varicose Veins
Spider veins are not the same thing as varicose veins. They can be found all over the body, including the face, but are most common on the legs. They are tiny veins that are red or purple and visible just under the skin surface. They resemble a messy spider web and, while they may be of cosmetic concern, they do not bulge, ache, or lead to wider medical issues. They can be treated at Crows Nest Vein Clinic via microsclerotherapy.
There’s Nothing You Can Do About Varicose Veins
As well as having varicose veins medically treated, there are numerous lifestyle changes you can make to prevent vein damage, minimise symptoms, and limit the worsening of existing varicose veins. These include:
- Elevating the legs, with feet above heart level, three to four times per day for 30 minutes apiece (e.g., when watching TV, reading, or resting before sleep).
- Wearing compression socks or stockings, especially if you are sedentary for long periods in the workplace or when travelling, or if standing for long periods.
- Regular gentle exercise to keep blood flowing in the legs and improve symptoms.
- Maintaining a healthy BMI and losing weight if you are overweight.
- Avoid consumption of too much salt, sugar, and fried fatty foods.
Varicose Veins Don’t Require Treatment
Regardless of the quality-of-life implications of having bothersome, unsightly leg veins, untreated varicose veins will likely progress and ultimately lead to pain, burning, swelling, bruising, redness, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and, potentially, other serious issues including leg ulcers and even systemic issues such as congestive heart failure.
Varicose Veins Must be Stripped
In the past, stripping varicose veins was the only treatment option. This is a major surgery requiring a general anaesthetic, hospital admission, high financial costs, and a long, painful recovery process. Fortunately, those days are gone and, while some doctors still do perform the procedure, most cases of varicose veins are suitable for minimally invasive day surgery treatment procedures. These are better in terms of patient experience and outcomes.
Vein Treatment is Painful
The above mentioned minimally invasive vein treatments are not painful. They are walk-in, walk-out same-day procedures and recovery is fast for most people and with little pain. The vein doctor will advise about any need for over-the-counter pain relief for the days after the procedure if required.
Women Can’t Have Vein Treatments Until After They Have Finished Having Children
Younger and pre-menopausal women do not need to wait until they have completed their families to undergo vein treatment – it is even possible to have minimally invasive vein treatment between pregnancies.
Varicose Veins Recur After Treatment
There is a low risk for recurrence after minimally invasive vein treatments. The risk of recurrence is somewhat higher after invasive surgical approaches to varicose veins.
Vein Treatment is Not Covered by Medicare
Varicose veins are a medical condition. As such, vein treatments at Crows Nest Vein Clinic are subject to Medicare Rebates.
Your Varicose Veins Can Be Treated!
Crows Nest Cosmetic & Vein Clinic is a premium Sydney clinic offering world-class minimally invasive varicose vein treatments. Our in-house vein specialist, Dr Nicole James, performs the most up-to-date vein treatment techniques and she has the experience and expertise to assess and appropriately treat your unique case.
Vein treatments at Crows Nest Vein Clinic include sclerotherapy, microsclerotherapy, or endovenous laser ablation (or a combination of these). You do not require a referral from your GP to visit our clinic – so book your consultation today! Our vein treatments are eligible for Medicare Rebates.