The Women's Journal

Dispelling 5 Varicose Vein Myths

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By Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC  

Varicose veins occur when a vein becomes enlarged and the valves can no longer function properly. As a result, the blood can no longer move in one direction up the leg and tends to pool in large, superficial vein branches. While there is a genetic predisposition involved with venous problems, there are also environmental factors that can contribute to them as well. People often disregard their vein health and attribute their tired legs to working long hours and the unsightly veins to age. These myths, among others, can unnecessarily delay a treatment plan for healthy veins!

Myth #1: Varicose veins are strictly cosmetic…

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that are caused by malfunctioning valves. Because the varicose vein is not able to properly move blood in one direction, the blood becomes stagnant. This can lead to phlebitis (superficial clotting and inflammation), discoloration, chronic edema and venous ulcers among other problems. While many patients fear the out of pocket costs of addressing their varicose veins, proper evaluation by a medical professional can often provide the information necessary for insurance companies to cover their part.

Myth #2: Wearing compression hose will cure varicose veins…

Compression hose are effective in improving circulation and reducing swelling which can help in the prevention and treatment of varicose veins.  Much like a band-aid, they give some relief but cannot cure venous reflux which requires medical advice from a doctor and a treatment plan including intervention for a successful long-term result.

Myth #3: Men don’t get varicose veins…

Varicose veins are most often associated with women because men can easily cover their legs and don’t get overly concerned with the cosmetic aspect of vein disease. This leads to them prolonging the treatment process and enduring unnecessary symptoms. Genetic predisposition, obesity and prolonged standing are just a few of the contributing factors that can lead to venous insufficiency in both men AND women.

Myth #4: Exercise causes varicose veins…

One of the worst things we can do for our vein health is to lead a sedentary lifestyle. Low-impact exercises such as walking and cycling can help improve our vein health by promoting good circulation. Higher impact exercises such as weightlifting and running put pressure on the veins which may lead to a weakening in the walls and have a detrimental effect on vein health.

Myth #5 Varicose veins come with age and there’s no way to prevent them…

Varicose veins are seen in patients of all ages. The same measures that are often taken to treat the symptoms of varicose veins are also helpful in prevention:  Exercise, elevation, changing sitting/standing position often and avoiding tight hosiery are all great ways to take a proactive approach to your vein health.

Untreated varicose veins can lead to venous ulcers, discoloration and chronic swelling among other symptoms. In order to better understand your varicose vein issues, it is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment options. People often disregard their vein health and attribute their tired legs to working long hours and the unsightly veins to age. These myths, among others, can unnecessarily delay a treatment plan for healthy veins!


Anthony Alfieri, DO, FACC is a board certified interventional cardiologist who has been practicing in the New Castle County area for over twenty-five years. In that time he has seen and treated many forms of cardiovascular disease, one of which being the progressive and often painful and debilitating venous insufficiency, commonly described as varicose veins. Over the years, Dr. Alfieri came to realize that this problem was frequently underappreciated, misdiagnosed, and undertreated. It was this extensive experience and intense compassion for his patients that drove his desire to provide an effective and permanent treatment and led him to found Delaware Advanced Vein Center. With over twenty-five years of experience as an interventionalist, Dr. Alfieri is uniquely qualified to perform a multitude of vascular procedures with minimal discomfort and maximum, lasting results.


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