We’ve all heard of varicose veins at some point in our lives, but very few of us actually learn anything about them. At most, we’ve probably heard half-truths and outright myths passed down through our families. (My grandmother will hit your leg if she sees you sitting on it!) What’s the truth, what do we need to know, and perhaps most importantly, what can we do about them? Good Housekeeping is here with the facts you need to know, and we’re only too happy to share!
- Does crossing your legs cause varicose veins?
Nope, AND – shoe lovers rejoice! – neither does wearing high heels! Both are just old wives’ tales.
- OK, so what does cause them?
Varicose veins form when blood pools in your veins, often when a one-way valve doesn’t work properly, and the pooling causes the vein to stretch, thicken and protrude. Genetics plays a role, and so does prolonged sitting and/or standing, lack of exercise, obesity, smoking and hormonal birth control.
- Is it true that only women can develop them?
Absolutely not. Men may be less likely to seek treatment, but they’re just as capable of getting them. Women do have more risk factors, though— the aforementioned hormonal birth control, and pregnancy. The fluctuating hormones and increased pressure in your abdomen disrupt blood flow and can lead it to pool.
- Is there anything we can do to prevent them?
Of course! In a word— exercise! Swimming, stair-climbing, toe raises, walking— anything that gets you moving and your blood circulating. Working your lower body and your legs is especially helpful.
- I already have them! Am I out of luck?
Not at all. You won’t be able to erase them on your own, but there are things you can do for yourself. To help the pain, try compression stockings and horse chestnut seed extract, which helps vein dilation. For minimizing the appearance, try witch hazel and the old stand-by— make-up! To actually get rid of them, consult your doctor.
- But should I really bother with medical treatment for a cosmetic issue?
Don’t let public misconception make you feel like you’re being vain! Varicose veins are absolutely a medical issue, which is why treatment is often covered by insurance and doctors have non-invasive, advanced ways to help you. Remember, they’re caused by blood pooling, which is no joke, and indicates other health issues. If your legs feel heavy, sore and/or swollen, make a doctor’s appointment, stat.
Do you feel educated? I certainly do! I’m going to go take a walk right now. Be sure to check out Good Housekeeping’s article for even more helpful information. How much of this info was news to you? Did you have any other questions about varicose veins?