6 Common Myths About Varicose Veins Debunked

Varicose veins and spider veins are venous conditions that affect millions of people throughout the world. In the past there were only two available treatments for veins. For varicose veins, a procedure called ligation and stripping involved multiple incisions and a long period of recovery. And for spider veins, you could get an injection with saline solution which was often painful and caused significant complications of discoloration and even ulceration.

Over the last decade, both of these treatments have been replaced by state of the art procedures that have shown excellent results, with little or no downtime during recovery. Varicose veins are treated primarily with a laser or radiofrequency catheter to cause closure of the incompetent valves. The bottom line with varicose veins is that they are caused by valves in the veins which don't close properly, leading to reversal of flow down the valves and ultimately into the skin to form the twisted, bulging veins.

Spider veins can also be caused by valvular insufficiency and are now commonly treated with sclerotherapy solutions primarily devised to treat these veins without any significant side effects.

Despite the fact that the current treatment of varicose and spider veins has been available for at least the last eight years, there are still many myths associated with varicose and spider veins.

1. Support stockings will make varicose veins go away

This is not true. Support stockings will symptomatically help to compress varicose veins and spider veins and try to do the work of valves that have failed. However, support stockings are only a temporary measure. If the underlying problem is valvular insufficiency, once the support stockings are removed, the primary cause of varicose veins continues. Although, support stockings may give symptomatic relief they do not resolve the problem.

2. Surgery is necessary for varicose veins

This is definitely a myth. Up until a decade ago, surgery was the only solution for varicose veins. Now this has been replaced by valve closure procedures using either laser or radiofrequency.

3. Varicose veins will always recur

This is not true. In general, if varicose veins recur, usually it is due to a new malfunctioning valve, whereas, some spider veins recurring will happen during the course of a lifetime and these usually could be treated by sclerotherapy.

4. Insurance doesn't cover vein treatment

This is a yes and no answer. If veins are broken down into varicose veins and spider veins, varicose veins are usually covered by insurance companies, provided that you (the patient) have valvular insufficiency and reflux. If this is the case and you are symptomatic from the reflux and a trial of support stockings has failed, then you are eligible for treatment of the varicose veins usually with a laser or radio frequency procedure. Most insurance companies will cover this.

As far as spider veins, many insurance companies consider this to be strictly cosmetic. There are a few insurance companies which will allow spider vein treatment, but the criteria is very strict. You should confer with your doctor when undergoing treatment of spider veins.

5. Only women have varicose vein problems

This is an absolute myth. Although the majority of patients with vein issues are women, many men have varicose vein and venous insufficiency issues. In fact, over the last eight years in which I have been providing vein therapy for my patients, my number of male patients has increased from approximately five percent to around 30 percent.

6. Varicose and spider vein treatment is strictly cosmetic

Not true. Varicose veins and often spider veins are caused by valvular insufficiency as demonstrated by ultrasound duplex scanning. There are many symptoms including: pain, swelling, aching, cramping, itching, burning and restless legs. If this is the case for you, then the resulting symptoms of varicose and spider veins are not cosmetic and are actually due to a valvular defect. Once this is documented, at least with varicose veins, insurance companies frequently will cover their treatment.

By Dr. Landi and provided by Vanish Vein and Laser Center

Reviewed February 10, 2017

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