Five myths surrounding varicose veins

New non-surgical technologies have revolutionised the treatment of varicose veins, so there is no excuse for people to be plagued by sore and unsightly symptoms. Unlike older methods of vein removal, these new technologies mean you don’t need to go to hospital, you don’t need to have a general anaesthetic and you definitely don’t need to take weeks off work.  

It’s wonderful that we can now offer non-surgical treatment to patients who were not considered fit for surgery and those who have been troubled with the often debilitating symptoms of this very common health issue.

Now is the time to debunk the most common myths surrounding varicose veins, so those who suffer can improve their quality of life and feel at ease.

Myth 1 – Only middle-aged women get varicose veins

Anyone can get varicose veins and they affect both men and women of all ages.  Varicose veins occur more frequently in people who have a strong family history and may worsen with occupations which require prolonged standing. Varicose veins appear to commonly affect people between 34 and 64 years of age.

Myth 2 – Crossing your legs will give you varicose veins

There is no evidence to support this. The best way to avoid varicose veins, or to slow the progression of pre-existing varicose veins, is to get enough rest, eat a healthy diet, keep your weight down and get regular exercise. If you already have varicose veins, support stockings are a great help.   Herbal supplements have been known to improve pain and swelling but have never been proven to heal bad veins or prevent healthy ones from deteriorating.

Myth 3 – Removing varicose veins involves painful surgery and weeks off work

The good news about new laser technology and modern sclerotherapy techniques is that patients do not require hospital admission or general anaesthetic, and can walk in and out in under an hour. These treatments are safe, effective and have a high success rate with no down time. This treatment is especially good news for patients who are not considered fit for surgery, but who are troubled by the often debilitating symptoms of this very common health issue.

Myth 4 – Varicose veins are only cosmetic – large bluish veins that bulge or bubble at the skin’s surface, mainly in the legs

This is completely untrue. Varicose veins develop because of an underlying problem with the venous valves that keep blood from flowing in the wrong direction.  When left untreated, varicose veins can lead to many debilitating symptoms including, but not limited to, swelling in the leg, venous eczema, discolouration of the skin, hardening of the lower leg and ankle, and ulceration.  Clots can also develop in varicose veins due to the blood just pooling inside them.

Myth 5 – There is no point having varicose veins removed, they only come back

While this used to be true with past methods of vein removal, such as invasive ‘vein stripping’ surgery, varicose veins are generally gone for good with today’s modern, non-surgical methods. Laser technology allows us to treat veins which were once removed by surgery.  The key also lies in using duplex ultrasound to completely map out the size and location of all diseased veins – many of which are beneath the skin and not visible. Ultrasound is then used to accurately and thoroughly treat the varicose veins.   By being able to see these hidden diseased veins, one can eliminate the root cause and prevent most recurrences. No procedure, however, can prevent new veins from forming.

I highly recommend that people have their varicose veins assessed by a phlebologist to avoid complications. With the advancement of medical technology, there is no reason you should be in pain or have to cover up because you don’t like the way your legs look. There is no reason to live with varicose veins anymore.

Article written by Dr Peter Paraskevas, Phlebologist and Certified Sclerotherapist.

Founder of the Melbourne Vein Clinic.