By: Dr. Craig Crippen
Dr. Crippen in Okanagan Life Magazine – Varicose Vein Myths
Unsightly varicose veins are a common problem for men and women of all ages. Varicose veins range in size from small red spider veins to large painful veins that may cause significant physical and psychological distress.
You may have heard numerous reasons for how and why varicose veins develop, but most are simply false and lay blame to simple things we do every day but in reality have no impact on the whole disease process.
Varicose Vein Myths
#1: Women get Varicose Veins more often than men.
Truth: This is a very common and pervasive belief in society, partly because most doctors will tell you this is so! In reality, when more detailed research into the epidemiology (how often medical disease occur) of varicose veins was done, it was found that men and women were actually very similar in the percentage that actually develop the disease. We believe the reason for this old myth is that women seek the advice of a physician more often for varicose veins and thus report higher numbers compared to men who largely ignore the problem altogether. Times are changing and men are becoming less complacent with their veins and are seeking treatment more and more often now that there are fantastic options to do so.
#2: Varicose Veins are caused by crossing your legs while sitting.
Truth: Varicose veins have nothing to do with crossing you legs, but this is a common explanation I hear from patients who think that they have done something wrong to cause their problem. Varicose veins are caused by leaky valves inside the veins and this is mostly the result of your family history rather than something you have done to yourself.
#3: Being overweight causes varicose veins
Truth: Obesity or increased body fat does not in of itself cause varicose veins but with excess weight one usually is performing much less physical activity and this certainly plays a role in worsening of varicose vein symptoms. It is important to note here that the root cause of varicose veins is genetic and a result of your individual family history. Certain things you do can make your veins worse, such as standing for long periods of time but for the most part people are genetically programmed to have “good” or “bad” veins.
#4: Pregnancy Causes Varicose Veins
Truth: See varicose vein myths #1 because if this were true then we would see much higher numbers of varicose veins in women. It is true that pregnancy can accelerate the development of varicose veins but it will not cause them. The baby while still inside the uterus will cause increased pressure on the veins leaving the legs, and this in turn causes increased pressure inside the veins further down the legs. As a result, the numerous valves inside these veins fail prematurely and allow blood to accumulate in the lower leg causing troublesome varicose vein symptoms. These symptoms may include aching, heaviness, fatigue, swelling, night cramps, and itching, not to mention visible veins on the surface of the skin.
These are a few of the most common varicose vein myths about varicose veins but there are many more. There are numerous to treat varicose veins and it has never been easier to diagnose the condition with advanced equipment. Now you are a bit better informed when someone tries to convince you of one of these varicose vein myths.