Fact or Fiction: Debunking Varicose Vein Myths
Despite how common varicose veins are, there are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding them. For many, the causes and symptoms of varicose veins are shrouded in mystery—until they actually have this type of venous insufficiency. Then, the reality starts to become clearer. However, the vascular physicians in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center don’t want to see people stay confused about varicose veins due to these myths. So, today, we would like to address some of the most common misunderstandings. Before we start, let’s take a moment to clarify what varicose veins are.
The Causes of Varicose Veins
These veins don’t suddenly appear for no reason. Your veins have valves that work hard to keep blood circulating throughout your body. The valves in your leg, however, have a lot more work to do—they have to fight against gravity to pump blood upwards through the leg. Over time, those valves can become weakened or damaged. The valves then can’t work as effectively as they should and blood starts to pool in the vein. The vein swells, and a varicose vein forms.
Myths around varicose veins often stem from misunderstandings about how these vein valves help your circulation, so keep that in mind as you learn about these myths—or as you come across any others that you may hear. A basic understanding of varicose veins can help save a lot of misunderstanding later. Now that we’ve established what causes varicose veins, let’s discuss the myths surrounding them.
Varicose Veins Are Caused by Crossing Your Legs
Growing up, you may have heard from a relative not to cross your legs—it could lead to visible, bulging veins when you’re older. This isn’t entirely accurate. Remember, varicose veins are formed when vein valves are damaged—not when you cross your legs. However, crossing your legs could potentially contribute to vein damage.
When you cross your legs, you increase venous blood pressure. This makes blood circulation just a bit harder than it is normally. Over time, if there’s enough stress on the vein valves, they’ll start to break down. This damage, as we know, can cause a varicose vein should form.
So, should you cross your legs or should you avoid it? Crossing your legs on occasion isn’t guaranteed to lead to varicose veins, but the impact on the vein valves shouldn’t be ignored. You don’t have to avoid crossing your legs completely, but make sure to spend some time sitting in more comfortable positions. And, if you spend a lot of time sitting because of work, take breaks to take a short walk. This will help improve your circulation and prevent the breakdown of vein valves.
Only Women Suffer From Varicose Veins
Varicose veins are commonly associated with women—for an understandable reason. Women are at increased risk of developing varicose veins. But are they the only ones who get them? Not at all.
Weakened veins aren’t unique to women. Men can also experience weakened or damaged vein valves and shouldn’t avoid taking care of their veins because of the misconception that they won’t suffer from varicose veins. Both men and women should be drinking water, exercising, and taking any other necessary steps for improving their venous health. And, of course, men should also visit a vein specialist if they’re noticing any symptoms of varicose veins.
Wearing High Heels Causes Varicose Veins
Just like crossing your legs, you may have also heard that high heels are terrible for your venous health. Pulling out a nice pair of heels for a special event isn’t going to harm you, but wearing them daily could cause damage.
When you wear high heels, you don’t contract your leg muscles as much as you would if you were wearing flats. This contracting of muscles is important—it gives your veins a helpful push in circulating blood. When you’re routinely wearing high heels, you’re also routinely causing less movement of blood. Over time, that can lead to damaged vein valves.
So, should you throw out all your pairs of heels and go shopping for flats? Not necessarily. As we’ve said before, occasional wear is okay—but if you’re wearing them every day, consider limiting your usage.
You’ll Know If You Have Varicose Veins
Most people think that it will be obvious if you’ve developed varicose veins because you’ll clearly see them under the skin. And, for many people, that’s true. A varicose vein’s most notable feature is that you can see and feel them under the skin’s surface.
But does that mean you’ll always know you’ll have varicose veins based on their visibility? Not at all. Varicose veins can form deep enough in the body that they don’t visibly appear under the skin. They may still carry the other uncomfortable symptoms, though: swelling, aching, painful, or heavy legs. If you’re having leg discomfort but don’t see any swollen veins, you may need to see a professional to accurately assess your venous health. Everyone’s varicose veins are different, both in visibility and in discomfort. A specialist is able to go past the visible surface level and tell you what’s actually going on with your veins.
There are many misconceptions about varicose veins. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to clear up the confusion and find answers to your questions. The vascular physicians in Orlando at Central Florida Vein & Vascular Center have dedicated themselves to treating venous insufficiency. If you’re concerned about your venous health or have more questions about varicose veins, a trip to see one of our specialists can be very educational and beneficial. We can assess the current state of your varicose veins and set up a treatment plan that will be best for you. And, of course, we can answer any questions you have about varicose veins and treatment. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. You can also check out our blog for more information about varicose veins, what causes them, and the treatment options that are available.