Varicose veins are blood vessels that have become dilated and no longer work the way they should. The valves that keep blood from backflowing fail and the veins become distended. They show up as blue or red ropes standing out on your legs. While they may seem straightforward, varicose veins are the subject of a variety of myths. Here are some that are false, and what is actually true:

Varicose Veins are Unsightly but Benign

Though this is true much of the time, there are instances where varicose veins become a real health issue. Your legs can feel heavy and ache, cramp, and swell up. The skin near the varicose vein dries out and becomes itchy, and the skin in some patients can become discolored or develop ulcers. In severe cases, the person can develop a deep vein thrombosis or blood clots. These clots can block the flow of blood or break off and cause problems in other parts of your body.

Only Old People Get Varicose Veins

While more common as you get older, varicose veins can definitely occur in younger individuals. This is especially common if varicose veins are common in your family. Over half of the people who have varicose veins have a family history of them. Other risk factors, such as weight, lack of movement, or leg trauma can also increase your risk.

Only Women Get Varicose Veins

While sometimes referred to as “Grandma leg,” varicose veins aren’t exclusive to women. In fact, one British study found that up to 56% of men may suffer from varicose veins at one point in their life. While gender is a contributing factor, lifestyle and family history have more of an impact on your chances than your gender does.

Crossing the Legs Causes Varicose Veins

This is one of the most widespread myths about varicose veins, but it isn’t true. This myth may have arisen from the fact that crossing your legs may exacerbate the problem if you already have varicose veins, but it won’t cause them. Being inactive for long periods of time can also cause varicose veins, so it isn’t a problem if you cross your legs while you are sitting, but try not to sit for too long.

Varicose Veins Can Always be Seen

While not common, it is possible for some of the veins deep in your leg to become varicose. This is known as deep thrombosis veins and these veins are not visible on the surface. However, these almost never occur without visible varicose veins. Deep thrombosis varicose veins are more likely to develop clots, so make sure you seek treatment for this right away.

Treatment Has to Be Painful

While varicose veins are painful, treatment doesn’t have to be. Like all medical treatments, there may be some pain during the treatment, but according to one patient, the procedure can be quick and relatively painless. Finding the right treatment facility is crucial to getting the best experience.

If you suffer from varicose veins or your family has a history of varicose veins, you don’t have to be afraid. Take the time to sort out the facts from the fiction so you are well-informed.

Author's Bio: 

Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.