Health Beat: The vein game! Varicose vein myths

Health Beat: The vein game! Varicose vein myths

It's time to break out the shorts, but for some, that means being self conscious because of varicose veins.

You've heard of varicose veins, probably seen them, and maybe even have them.  They develop when blood pools in faulty leg valves.

Here's a little vein trivia:

Dr. Eric Peden, of the Methodist Hospital in Houston, said about 25 percent of women get them, but guys don't have to worry right?  Wrong!  One out of every ten men gets them, too! 

"So not just a disease in women, but clearly more prevalent in women," explained 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," said Peden, adding that staying active can help prevent varicose veins.

So what's the most common cause? Family history, according to Peden. He said that means "if your mother had them, then she's kinda passing those on."

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.  

Now, however, outpatient catheter procedures are resulting in less post-op pain and bruising. The procedures also tend to cost less.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is putting off treatment for varicose veins because of the cost, Peden said. Many believe it's a cosmetic procedure. The truth is, varicose veins are often seen as a medical condition and treatments are commonly covered by insurance.

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