Esp Cat
vascular Barcelona

Myths and old wive’s tales

Each day we, the angiologists and vascular surgeons, attend to doubts and questions our patients have resulting from old waves tales or myths surrounding the venous pathology. Some of these are:

I have been told that when my varicose veins are taken out, others will appear

It depends. If the THERAPEUTIC technique is very grave, sometimes (up to 20-50% of cases), RECURRENCE can occur, i.e. the growth of new varicose veins, because the patient has a DEFECT IN THE VENOUS STRUCTURE OR WALL WHICH FAVOURS THE DILATION of such veins. It should be remembered that VARICOSE VEINS ARE NOT THE DISEASE IN THEMSELVES, but that this venous dilation is the result of a defect or a disease which affects the vessel wall.

If my superficial veins are taken out... where will the blood pass through?

The veins taken out are pathological. Therefore, THE FUNCTION THEY CARRY OUT CAN BE SUBSTITUTED BY OTHER SUPERFICIAL VEINS which will drain the deep venous system. If the surgical operation is very aggressive, it is true that there can sometimes be certain difficulties in redistributing the superficial venous drainage that sometimes involve the reappearance of superficial veins or some swelling and oedema of the limb.

I have been told I have internal varicose veins

Strictly speaking, we cannot talk about internal varicose veins. This expression is used to explain to the patient that there may exist a failure in the drainage system at the level of the deepest veins. These cannot be treated surgically and, frequently, WHOEVER SUFFERS A DEEP VENOUS FAILURE MUST NOT UNDERGO SURGERY.

I have many small veins in my legs. So, I have bad circulation

Although the possibility exists of a patient having venous return problems and also having blotches or small veins in the thighs and legs, when these appear in young women, it very often is only a cosmetic problem. VARICULAS OR VASCULAR SPIDERS ARE NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO BAD CIRCULATION. In any case, what does exist is a capillary fragility or a defect on the capillary wall that favours its dilation.

I cannot wear compression stockings. I cannot stand them and they cut off my circulation

This complaint is very frequent and, normally, very justified.
However, it must be pointed out that this intolerance is due to an INCORRECT PRESCRIPTION given by the doctor or to an INCORRECT DISPENSING by the pharmacy or orthopaedics.

There are many products on the market that can be adapted to all possible anatomies. It is essential to go to a specialist who knows the product and who correctly prescribes the type of stocking, with the correct compression suited to  the patient.

I have been told that I cannot be operated on in summer

This belief is based on the fact that, during the hottest months when there is most exposure to the sun, varicose veins get worse and it is easier for your legs to feel tired. Although this is true from a medical point of view, THERE IS NO CONTRAINDICATION as such.

The real reason for not advising the operation in summer is for CONVENIENCE, for it is hot in summer and the patients want to enjoy their holidays in the sun. When there are patients who have no choice but to use their holidays to be operated on for work reasons, a series of rules must be followed to protect the surgical wounds from the sun’s exposure and it must also be accepted that it is more uncomfortable to endure a bandage or an elastic stocking with the heat.

I have been told that I cannot wax my legs with hot wax

Actually, no patient has varicose veins caused by this habit. The problem is that, in those patients (women) who suffer a certain capillary fragility, micro-traumatisms can favour the appearance of small variculas or telangiectasias, but varicose veins will never appear for this reason.

Is lymphatic drainage a good thing?

Without doubt, it is healthy if it is done by qualified professionals under a doctor’s prescription. It is important to associate these types of therapies with compression stockings which will prolong the effect of the drainage itself.

My parents do not have bad circulation. Why do I have varicose veins?

It is important to point out that, in a high percentage of cases, the hereditary factor is decisive, but a family history does not always have to exist. If a patient has a genetic (not family) tendency, he/she will have a tendency to have varicose veins regardless of whether preventive advice is followed.

On the other hand, when a patient does not have that tendency, he/she will probably never have varicose veins. That is why children with and without varicose veins may have parents with circulation problems.