The vein game! Varicose vein myths

Swimsuit season is almost here. While many love it, others hate it, because of their varicose veins. But how much do you really know about them?

Today we help separate fact from fiction about the condition.

Scared you might get varicose veins? Varicose veins develop when blood pools in faulty leg valves. They can be painful or just plain unsightly.

Doctor Eric Peden says about 25-percent of women get them. But guys do not have to worry right? Wrong. The doctor tells us one out of every ten men gets them too.

"So it is not just a disease in women, but clearly more prevalent in women," says Dr. Eric Peden, MD, at the Methodist Hospital in Houston.

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," explains Dr. Peden.

The doctor says, staying active can help prevent varicose veins.

"It turns out that obesity, smoking, drinking are not directly related to varicose veins," Dr. Peden explains.

So what's the most common cause?

"I knew it was hereditary because my mother had the same problem," says Judy Dahms who had varicose veins.

That's right. The greatest risk for varicose veins is your family history.

"So if your mother had them then she's kind of passing those on," says Dr. Peden.

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,” says Dr. Peden. “That was the stripping part."

But now, Doctor Peden says outpatient catheter procedures, are resulting in less post-op pain and bruising.

Some patients have seen their varicose veins go from visible, to not, and a new Henry Ford Hospital study found the procedures cost thousands less than vein stripping. Helping you understand what's under your skin.

Doctor Peden says one of the biggest mistakes people make is putting off treatment for varicose veins because of the cost.

He tells us many believe it's a cosmetic procedure. The truth is, varicose veins are seen as a medical condition and treatments are commonly covered by insurance.

The vein game! Varicose vein myths
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BACKGROUND: Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red, or flesh-colored. They often look like cords and appear twisted and bulging. They can be swollen and raised above the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are often found on the thighs, backs of the calves, or the inside of the leg. During pregnancy, varicose veins can form around the vagina and buttocks. (SOURCE: www.womenshealth.gov)

SYMPTOMS: When painful signs and symptoms occur, they may include:

* An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
* Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
* Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
* Itching around one or more of your veins
* Skin ulcers near your ankle, which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention
(SOURCE: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/varicose-veins/)

CAUSES: Varicose veins are caused by weakened valves and veins in the legs. Normally, one-way valves in the veins keep blood flowing from the legs up toward the heart. When these valves do not work as they should, blood collects in the legs, and pressure builds up. The veins become weak, large, and twisted. Varicose veins often run in families. Aging also increases the risk, as well as being overweight or pregnant. Having a job where one must stand for long periods of time increases pressure on leg veins; this too can cause varicose veins. (SOURCE: http://www.webmd.com)

TREATMENT: Vein stripping surgery removes varicose veins in the legs. It is usually only done in patients who are having a lot of pain or who have skin sores. This procedure is performed in an operating room and it is very expensive. The current treatment of choice over surgery for physicians and patients with superficial venous insufficiency and varicose veins is endovenous catheter ablation. This procedure involves targeting heat energy inside a vein to seal it. Heat may be created by a laser (endovenous laser ablation, or EVLA) or by radio waves (endovenous radiofrequency ablation, or RFA). With the diseased vein sealed, other healthy veins carry blood from the leg, re-establishing the normal flow. This is an out-patient procedure and it can be done for a fraction of the cost of vein stripping. (SOURCE: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth ; www.ivanhoe.com)

For More Information, Contact:

George Kovacik
Sr. Media Relations Coordinator
The Methodist Hospital, Houston
ggkovacik@tmhs.org


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