Varicose veins: are they curable? Does climbing stairs make it worse? Cream desserts? See 6 myths about them

Sometimes, a problem that may seem only aesthetic, without major consequences for health, if not properly treated, can actually lead to very serious and difficult to treat conditions. This is the case of varicose veins which can evolve and cause serious diseases.

According to data from the SBACV (Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular Surgery):

  • The prevalence of varicose veins in the general Brazilian population is 38%.
  • Among men 30% and among women 45%, taking into account all age groups.
  • The older the age, the higher the prevalence: 70% of people over 70 may have varicose veins.
  • The major risk factors are family predisposition, being female, age, obesity and the number of pregnancies.

What are varicose veins and varicose veins?

  • Varix is ​​a vein that has become enlarged and has lost its function of draining blood into the legs.
  • They are divided into microvaricoses, collateral or reticular varicoses (of greater caliber) and trunk varicoses, generally including the saphenous veins.
  • Vasinhos are what we call vascular spiders or telangiectasias. They are purplish and smaller. These are between the dermis and epidermis.

Watch out for symptoms…

  • “Burning” or “tiredness” type pain.
  • Feeling of heavy legs or burning.
  • Edema (swelling) of the legs, mainly around the ankle, which improves with elevation of the lower extremities and worsens at the end of the day, with prolonged standing or sitting, in heat, around periods or during menstruation, and during pregnancy .

Varicose veins also affect other regions such as:

  • Esophagus: esophageal varices, frequent in patients with cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Rectal region: hemorrhoids.
  • Testicular pocket or scrotum: varicocele.

They can also appear after a thrombosis in areas such as the upper limb and even the neck region.

1. Can varicose veins be cured?

Myth. Varicose veins cannot be cured as they are a genetic predisposition and tend to get worse with age. New varicose veins appear according to our aging process.

2. Does hot or cold waxing produce new varicose veins?

Image: Getty Images

Myth. Cold and hot waxes do not cause varicose veins or varicose veins on the legs. Varicose veins are dilated veins in the subcutaneous layer, and varicose veins occur within the skin layer.

3. Does climbing stairs increase varicose veins?

Myth. Going up and down stairs favors the activation of venous return. So it’s the other way around: training your legs improves and minimizes the symptoms of those with varicose veins.

4. Do creams treat varicose veins?

Myth. Varicose vein treatment creams do not work, as they cannot go beyond the skin and act on the vessel wall.

There are creams that work like make-up and are used to camouflage or cover up these little vessels to go to a party with a shorter dress or shorts. They leave right after the bath. There are other creams that may be prescribed by vascular doctors to provide relief and comfort, but they do not cure or shrink diseased veins.

5. Does bodybuilding cause varicose veins?

Bulging veins, bodybuilding, vasodilation, pumping - iStock - iStock
Image: iStock

Myth. Like any physical activity, bodybuilding is beneficial for the circulatory system. In bodybuilding, what happens is muscle hypertrophy and that muscle which has a greater volume will need more nutrition which is given by the arteries.

The blood that goes to the arteries must return through the veins. Of course, since bodybuilding promotes weight loss and muscle hypertrophy, a very common venous hypertrophy will occur in weight lifters who have a low fat percentage and often the veins are more noticeable, but these veins are healthy.

6. Do high heels cause varicose veins?

Myth. High heels worn for a long time can contribute to poor posture, back problems or even changes in the calf muscles, but they do not lead to the appearance of varicose veins.

Complications can be serious

Treatments can be injectable or laser. The decision of which or which treatments to do depends on a careful analysis by the specialist. Depending on the type of varicose veins being treated, your doctor may prescribe one or more treatments.

Some treatments are covered by SUS or health plans. Experts warn: you must always be aware of the symptoms or discomfort that may arise in the lower limbs and it is advisable to consult an angiologist at least once a year.

Female legs with varicose veins - iStock - iStock
Image: iStock

Although it is not a rule, early monitoring is important to avoid vascular problems, as well as maintaining healthy lifestyle habits, avoiding risk factors such as cigarettes, hormones, a sedentary lifestyle and trying to hydrate properly on a daily basis.

If not treated properly, varicose veins can progress and develop serious complications such as:

  • Eczema: Usually starts with itching.
  • Dermatitis.
  • Phlebitis and thrombosis (clot): Phlebitis means inflammation of the vein. Varicophlebitis is inflammation of varicose veins.
  • Skin darkening.
  • Bleeding: The skin and wall of varicose veins are often so thin that they break easily. When this happens, significant blood loss can occur.
  • Ulcers: the most feared complication by the population is the formation of sores on the legs called ulcers. They heal quite easily at first, but over time and if treated improperly they become more complex.

Tips to prevent new varicose veins from appearing:

  • Avoid exacerbated weight gain;
  • Have a diet rich in fiber to avoid constipation;
  • Try not to sit still for a long time: standing or sitting;
  • Do not use tight lap straps;
  • Go for walks or exercise under medical supervision;
  • Not smoking;
  • Systematically use elastic stockings, especially those that work for a long time sitting or standing and during pregnancy;
  • Avoid contraceptive hormones;
  • See your angiologist regularly.

Sources: Almar de Assumpção Bastospresident of SBACV-RJ (Brazilian Society of Angiology and Vascular Surgery – Rio de Janeiro Regional) and director general of IEDE (State Institute of Diabetes and Endocrinology); Bruno Cantovascular and endovascular surgeon at Getúlio Vargas State Hospital and at the Conceitto and Regenere clinics in Recife; Nostradamus Augusto Coelho, senior vascular sonographer at Labs a+, Rio de Janeiro, associate professor of angiology at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro); And Gustavo Marcattoangiologist in São José do Rio Preto (SP).

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