Two Common Varicose Vein Myths

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Myth # 1 - Women are more likely to get varicose veins than men.

In the past, specialists for veins conducted research from the data available in their offices, meaning that a medical student would tabulate how many women were treated for vein problems in a particular doctor's office over a given time period. Since more women sought care for veins than men in the 1960's, 1970's, 1980's and 1990's (hey, it wasn't a macho thing to do in those times for men to seek care for their veins--they were "supposed to live with them"), then all published research was biased, it seems in retrospect. The research did not, in fact, reflect what is seen in a population based study.

This means, that when the studies were repeated by randomly picking a neighborhood, knocking on their doors, and simply asking whoever opened the door, "Do you have vein problems?", it became clear that of those people who answered "Yes", 51% were men and 49% were women.

So,there you have it, we dispelled the most common myth about varicose veins: that women are more likely to have vein problems than men. This is not my opinion, but published data in the medical literature.

There is no more comment that is needed for this subject. Anyone who claims otherwise simply has it wrong and has outdated information.

Of course, if you pick all people who live on a street who are aged 24--men and women--it is more likely that the women that are pregnant and 24 are more likely than the men who are 24 to have vein issues. But this does not count!

Myth # 2 - Standing for a long time predisposes you to varicose veins.

This is another common myth about varicose veins, that "standing for long periods of time predisposes you to varicose veins." One of the top phlebologists in the world, Mark Whiteley, showed in the 1990's that *malfunctioning or leaking vein valves is the most important factor in individuals who have a problem with the "leg pump" (see "second heart below"). This condition is called venous reflux disease or venous insufficiency.

Dr. Whiteley published that by age 9, 5% of girls had leaky vein valves or venous insufficiency. He also showed that by age 18, over 10% of females have leaky vein valves.

That is the "scene was set" with established valve problems, and the vein problems started once they took on occupations where they stood for a long time. So, standing did not necessarily cause the vein problems, but manifested it or accelerated it.

So, this is information from one of the world's leading phlebologists, Mark Whiteley of the UK. His research is unsurpassed in the field of venous insufficinecy and not easily refutable. No need to make additional comment, except to say that it is your genetic make-up that predisposes you to venous reflux and the occupation you have can manifest the problem sooner.

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Buffalo General Surgeon