Varicose vein myths

Doctors separate fact from fiction

Published On: May 09 2013 06:30:26 AM EDT   Updated On: May 09 2013 07:40:00 AM EDT

Swimsuit season is here! While many love it, others hate it, because of their varicose veins. But how much do you really know about them?

Varicose veins develop when blood pools in faulty leg valves. They can be painful or just plain unsightly! Dr. Eric Peden, from The Methodist Hospital in Houston, Texas,  says about 25 percent of women get them. But guys don’t have to worry right?

Wrong! Peden tells us one out of every ten men gets them too!

“So not just a disease in women, but clearly more prevalent in women,” said Peden.

Some believe crossing your legs compresses veins and can lead to the condition.

Not true! How you sit will not cause them. How long you sit or stand, that could be an issue.

“People that have problems where they have to stand for long periods of time or sit for long periods of time, tend to have less activity; less of the blood pumping back up and tend to be more likely to get problems with varicose veins,” explained Peden.

The doctor says, staying active can help prevent varicose veins.

“But it turns out that obesity, smoking, drinking are not directly related to varicose veins,” Peden said.

So what’s the most common cause?

“I knew it was hereditary because my mother had the same problem,” said Judy Dahms, who had varicose veins.

That’s right! The greatest risk for varicose veins is your family history.

“So if your mother had them then she’s kinda passing those on,” Peden said.

Vein stripping used to be the standard treatment.

“There basically was an incision made up at the groin, an incision made down at the ankle, and then the whole vein was removed from the body. That was the stripping part,” explained Peden.

But now, Peden says outpatient catheter procedures are resulting in less post-op pain and bruising. A new Henry Ford Hospital study found the procedures cost thousands less than vein stripping.

Peden says, one of the biggest mistakes people make is putting off treatment for varicose veins because of the cost. He tells us many believe it’s a cosmetic procedure. The truth is, varicose veins are seen as a medical condition and treatments are commonly covered by insurance.