June 23, 2015
There are many misconceptions about varicose veins, both among the medical community and general public. Here, we debunk 7 of the most common myths we've heard.
Myth #1 - Varicose veins are just a cosmetic issue. A lot of people think varicose veins are just something unsightly you have to deal with, but the truth is that they can be very painful. Varicose veins can cause a variety of leg symptoms. The most common are dull aching, leg fatigue, heaviness, cramping, restlessness, itching, and swelling. Due to the effects of gravity, symptoms typically increase in intensity throughout the day.
Myth #2 -- You have to have bulging veins to have varicose vein problems. This is perhaps the greatest fallacy preventing people from getting treatment. Without visible signs of bulging, veins within the leg seem like an unlikely connection to the symptoms previously mentioned. The tricky thing is varicose vein symptoms are nonspecific, so they are often attributed to other causes. It's easy to brush off things like leg fatigue, heaviness, swelling, and cramping to thoughts like "I'm on my feet too much", "I worked long hours today", or "I'm just getting older", while in reality, varicose veins could be to blame.
Myth #3 - Varicose vein treatment requires vein stripping surgery and a long recovery. Vein stripping is a thing of the past and has been replaced with treatments that require no sedation, no stitches, and no hospital stay. All of the procedures done at The Vein Institute are completed in the office without sedation. Patients rest comfortably while watching TV or listening to music. Downtime is minimal - people return to most normal daily activities right away with limited restrictions.
Myth #4 -- Even if I get them treated, my veins will just come back. The majority of varicose veins arise from specific veins in the legs. Our success rate for vein closure with EVLT (laser treatment) is 99.5%. Successfully closed veins do not return. Because small branches could return or new veins may form in the future, we follow our patients closely to make sure no faulty veins remain.
Myth #5 - Varicose veins aren't important to get treated. Varicose veins are caused by blood pooling in the leg veins. In the early stages, symptoms may be vague and misunderstood. In the later stages of the disease, patients can start to see skin changes, especially at the shins and ankles. Skin can become red, brown, or flaky, and may feel hard. Even more advanced vein disease can lead to ulcers- open wounds in the skin that can be difficult to treat.
Myth #6 - Insurance doesn't cover varicose vein treatments. Varicose veins that cause symptoms are a medical problem. Although every insurance plan varies, we've found that as long as treatments are being done for symptomatic relief and the problem can be shown on ultrasound, insurance coverage applies for the vast majority of plans.
Myth #7 -- There's no good way to tell if I even have varicose veins. There is an easy screening tool to tell if you have varicose veins or the symptoms they cause -- ultrasound. At a consultation, our skilled team performs an ultrasound of your leg veins to tell you definitively if you have a problem, and whether you would be a good candidate for our treatments. We even have free vein screenings with evening hours to educate people and quickly confirm whether or not varicose veins are even the issue.