7 misconceptions about varicose veins - uncovered

7 misconceptions about varicose veins

Nobody wants bulging veins on their legs, but with 30% of the population suffering from varicose veins, we often get asked questions about the condition during our clinics.

Thankfully, we know a lot more about veins nowadays. Our Consultant Vascular Surgeon, Mr Eddie Chaloner, busts some of the most popular myths out there.

1. Are varicose veins caused by crossing the legs?

False. Patients are often told to avoid crossing their legs while in hospital to prevent restriction on the blood flow in the veins which can lead to Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). But there’s no evidence that sitting cross-legged causes varicose veins.

2. Only women get varicose veins

False. Men and women are equally prone to getting varicose veins. Women are more likely to visit a doctor about their veins because of the way they look, whereas men tend to put it off until the veins are more advanced and causing skin trouble or severe pain.

3. Varicose veins are caused by pregnancy

False. Varicose veins aren’t directly caused by pregnancy, though pregnancy hormones may make pre-existing varicose veins worse. The good news is that after pregnancy the veins should subside a bit, even if they don’t go away completely. 

4. Women shouldn’t have varicose veins treated until after they’ve finished having a family

False. This used to be a common view among surgeons but, with better techniques for vein surgery, we encourage women to have any pre-existing varicose veins fixed before they get start a family. This saves them becoming troublesome during the pregnancy.

5. Veins always come back after surgery

False. This used to be very common with the old ‘high tie and strip’ operation, where up to 30% of patients would get a significant recurrence after surgery. It’s much less common now, where the recurrence rate after laser surgery is much lower.

6. You must walk 3 miles a day after vein surgery

False. Patients were often told to walk around a lot after the old ‘vein stripping’ procedure to reduce the risk of DVT and to reduce pain after the operation. With modern laser treatment, most patients are walking normally right after surgery and there’s no need to ‘walk off’ the surgery.

7. Varicose veins run in families

This one may be partly true. It’s a bit difficult to be sure whether varicose veins are truly caused by genetic reasons or whether they’re just very common. There may be some genetic influence, as some very young people get varicose veins, but it’s probably not the whole story.

If you’re concerned about varicose veins, ask your doctor for a referral to Benenden Hospital for diagnosis and treatment, contact us online or give us a call on 01580 363158.

Published on 08 November 2019