VARICOSE VEINS ARE SWOLLEN AND ENLARGED VEINS WHICH ARE USUALLY A BLUE OR DARK PURPLE . THEY MAY ALSO BE LUMPY , BULGING OR TWISTED IN APPEARANCE . WE USUALLY THINK OF THEM AS BEING A CONDITION SUFFERED BY OLDER PEOPLE BUT THIS IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE . DR MO FARIS IS A VASCULAR INTERVENTIONAL RADIOLOGIST , A DOCTOR WHO SPECIALISES IN PROCEDURES SUCH AS TREATMENTS FOR PROBLEMATIC VEINS . THIS MONTH , WE ASKED HIM TO DISPEL A FEW COMMON MYTHS ABOUT VARICOSE VEINS .
YOUNG PEOPLE DON ’ T SUFFER FROM VARICOSE VEINS
While problem veins are more prevalent in people age 50 +, it ’ s simply not true that younger people do not get them . Varicose veins can affect people in their 20s and 30s and while they may not be painful , they can affect self esteem . Young women in particular will shy away from wearing shorts or skirts because they feel their legs are unsightly .
VARICOSE VEINS ARE CAUSED BY BEING ON YOUR FEET ALL DAY
Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside the veins stop working properly . In a healthy vein , blood flows smoothly to the heart , and is prevented from flowing backwards by a series of tiny valves , which open and close to let blood through . If these valves weaken or are damaged , the blood can flow backwards and can collect in the vein , eventually causing it to be varicose . Standing up for long periods does not weaken the valves in the first place , but being on your feet can make the symptoms worse , which is why professions like hairdressing , nursing and teaching are often thought to cause a greater risk of varicose veins .
EXERCISE CAN CAUSE VARICOSE VEINS
Actually , quite the reverse ! Exercise can help you maintain a healthy weight which means less pressure will be put on your venous system .
ONLY WOMEN GET VARICOSE VEINS
Not true ! It ’ s estimated that around twice as many women suffer with varicose veins than men – current figures suggest that 30 % of women are affected compared with 15 % of men . But 15 % is still a significant number of men who get varicose veins and there may be many more who don ’ t seek medical advice . So varicose veins are definitely not just a woman ’ s problem .
VARICOSE VEINS ALWAYS COME BACK
The old way of treating varicose veins was by tying them off and stripping them out – a fairly major procedure carried out under general anaesthetic . But the veins would often grow back and the patient would be back to square one . However , the development of a technique called endovenous laser ablation or EVLA for short has changed all that . This procedure works by destroying the veins by laser from the inside so that none of the surrounding tissues are damaged . Destroying the vein by heat makes it shrivel away never to return . If varicose veins do reappear after EVLA , this is because new veins have become varicosed .
VARICOSE VEINS CAN ONLY BE TREATED UNDER GENERAL ANAESTHETIC
Thanks to medical advances and new technology we can happily write off this myth . Nearly all varicose veins can be treated quickly and effectively by minimally invasive techniques under local anaesthetic .
VARICOSE VEINS CAN ONLY BE TREATED IN HOSPITAL
Because modern procedures are minimally invasive and are done under local anaesthetic there is no need for patients to go to hospital . Patients are usually treated at a specialist clinic where they will receive personal and professional care .
IT CAN TAKE A LONG TIME TO RECOVER AFTER VARICOSE VEIN TREATMENT
If you are thinking of getting your varicose veins treated so that you can have a nice rest from work then I ’ m going to disappoint you I ’ m afraid ! You will be able to walk out of the clinic shortly after your treatment and probably even drive yourself home . You may find your legs are a bit sore and bruised initially but there is no need to put your feet up for a week – in fact we recommend that you are as active as you can be .
VARICOSE VEIN TREATMENT IS ONLY FOR SEVERE CASES
Varicose veins can cause symptoms such as pain , swelling and restless legs at night and in severe cases leg ulcers can develop . While patients with troublesome veins are obvious candidates for treatment , there ’ s good reason for people with a mild case to be investigated for underlying problems . An ultrasound scan is simple and painless and will reveal problems in veins that are too deep to be seen .
Even if their veins don ’ t give them any trouble , many people feel self-conscious about baring their legs . As modern procedures are minimally invasive and don ’ t require a general anaesthetic there is much less risk , so there is little reason not to have your varicose veins treated purely for cosmetic reasons .