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Commonly held myths about varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency

Please note the information provided is intended to support patients and is not a substitute for medical advice and treatment. We strongly recommend consultation with your doctor or health care professional, before using any information obtained from articles of this website.


red     MYTH #1: Prolonged standing is the main cause of varicose veins

green     TRUTH: Prolonged standing is a risk factor for developing leg varicose veins (vv’s) if there is a genetic predisposition. The genetic predisposition itself is essentially responsible for the development of vv’s. It is recommended that individuals who are often on their feet (like restaurant servers, hairdressers, athletes) rest by elevating their feet in every opportunity, especially if they are known to be predisposed.


red     MYTH #2: Men may only rarely develop varicose veins

green     TRUTH: Men – although a little less frequently than women – may also develop vv’s. It is estimated that over 35% of men in their 60s do have vv’s. However, most men will seek treatment only when symptoms worsen.


red     MYTH #3: Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency are different names for the same condition

green     TRUTHVaricose veins (vv’s) are the swollen tortuous veins which appear lumpy and blue under the skin. These develop as a result of “leaking” valves of the superficial veins of the leg, and are one of the demonstrations of chronic venous disease.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) describes the condition when the consequences of the insufficient overall function of the venous system of the leg have appeared; this condition may result from either valvular incompetence with reflux affecting the (superficial or deep) veins of the leg or from dysfunction of the calf musculovenous pump.

For proper function of the leg veins (i.e. for normal return of the blood from the leg to the heart), integrity of supeficial veins, deep veins and calf muscle venous pump is required. Therefore:

  1. Not all cases of vv’s will end up in CVI
  2. Varicose veins are not the only cause of CVI

While small vv’s which do not cause symptoms do not generally require treatment, CVI should be treated as soon as it is recognised.


red     MYTH #4: Young people with vv’s don’t need to be treated because the vv’s will come back

green     TRUTH: On the contrary, the younger the individual the greater the benefit of the treatment, in the sense of preventing both the development of additional vv’s and of skin changes eventually in the future; also, the cosmetic result is expected to be better. This is the reason why we recommend early treatment, if there is an appropriate indication. After a “correct” procedure for vv’s (i.e. removal or ablation of all damaged veins), these do not come back. However, appearance of new vv’s may occur in 3-4% of cases per year thereafter. This is due to the genetic predisposition. Occasionally, new treatment may be required.

 Last modified 09/09/2016