Your grandparents probably had them. Your parents might have them. Maybe you’ve even noticed those raised, twisted veins making an appearance on your legs. If you don’t have varicose veins, count yourself lucky. An estimated 20% of all adults will be affected by varicose veins at some point, making it a prevalent concern among both doctors and patients. Although widely considered a cosmetic issue, varicose veins are a symptom of a more significant problem unfolding within the venous system. You probably know that your veins are responsible for transporting deoxygenated blood back to the heart, but to accomplish this, they must work against gravity. To move blood upward, your veins have special valves that keep things going in the right direction. Sometimes these valves can fail, creating a condition known as venous insufficiency. When your valves no longer work properly, blood has difficulty flowing upward and begins to pool, causing affected veins to swell, twist and bulge. These varicose veins tend to progress and can cause significant medical issues if left unattended.
Due to the prevalence of varicose veins, the internet is flooded with natural remedies, quick fixes and mind-boggling treatments that promise to “cure” varicose and spider veins, as well as other venous diseases. At The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we want to explore some of these claims to help patients avoid ineffective remedies and debunk the myths surrounding vein treatments.
Myth # 1: Apple cider vinegar can cure varicose veins — FALSE
Apple cider vinegar is praised as a cure-all for everything from obesity to arthritis. While research shows that apple cider vinegar does have some positive health effects, there is no definitive evidence to suggest that it can cure or treat varicose veins.
The idea behind apple cider vinegar as a cure for varicose veins is that it has anti-inflammatory properties and may enhance circulation. While improving blood flow and reducing inflammation could help treat some of the symptoms of varicose veins, there is no scientific evidence suggesting that apple cider vinegar does either. Furthermore, apple cider vinegar is highly acidic and could irritate the skin if applied directly, the method often suggested for varicose veins. In reality, varicose veins are a symptom of venous insufficiency, a progressive condition which cannot be cured with fermented apples and other natural remedies. This type of myth demonstrates why seeking the guidance of a medical professional such as Dr. Jimenez at The Vein Care Center of Florida & South Baldwin is so important — if not treated properly, varicose veins can lead to complications such as blood clots and ulcers.
Myth # 2: Exercise is bad for vein health — FALSE
Many people worry that exercise can cause varicose veins, when in fact just the opposite is true. Obesity is one of the biggest risk factors for venous disease and patients who are overweight are not only more likely to suffer from venous insufficiency, but they are also more likely to experience complications. Excess weight makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood throughout the body, increases pressure on your veins and restricts blood flow. Those who are obese are also more likely to have sedentary lifestyles. Over time, the combined effects of obesity and inactivity contribute to strained, weakened veins and damaged valves — a recipe for venous insufficiency and varicose veins.
Regular exercise not only helps patients maintain a healthy weight, but it can also improve vein health and circulation. This can reduce the symptoms of venous insufficiency and help prevent the formation of varicose veins. Low-impact exercises such as biking, walking and swimming are ideal for strengthening the leg muscles and improving blood flow. Your legs contain calf muscles which have special pumps, called calf muscle pumps, that are responsible for “pushing” blood upward to facilitate healthy circulation. This reduces pooling blood caused by valve damage associated with obesity and prolonged periods of sitting or standing. Despite the health benefits of regular exercise, it cannot cure venous insufficiency or eliminate existing varicose veins. It can, however, reduce uncomfortable symptoms, help you maintain a healthy weight and build muscle to promote better circulation for stronger veins.
Myth # 3: Compression stockings may increase circulation — TRUE
Compression stockings are specialized medical socks that are worn to provide even, consistent pressure to the legs to treat the symptoms of venous insufficiency. Unlike the arterial system, veins don’t have a pump to help transport blood back to the heart. Instead, our veins must rely on muscle contractions and one-way valves to fight against gravity and ensure that everything flows in the right direction. Venous insufficiency happens when these valves fail and blood flows backward and pools.
Compression socks apply pressure to “squeeze” the legs and veins to help blood flow upward. These socks may provide a number of benefits, such as improving circulation, reducing swelling, minimizing bruising and blood clot formation, and controlling discomfort. Compression stockings come in a variety of sizes, colors or styles and are made of a strong, elastic material that fits tightly around the leg to reduce venous pressure. To ensure they function properly, it’s important to have these specialized socks properly fitted; too tight and they restrict blood flow, too loose and they provide little benefit. Dr. Jimenez at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin can evaluate you properly to prescribe the proper amount of compression you need and recommend other effective treatments for venous insufficiency.
Myth # 4: Medical vein treatments are painful and dangerous — FALSE
Some patients are concerned that treating venous insufficiency by removing the affected veins might be dangerous or harmful. Veins with damaged valves are no longer working properly, making it harder for blood to efficiently return to the heart. Since it can’t flow upward, it pools in the legs and causes unsightly and uncomfortable symptoms, such as varicose veins. This puts extra strain on your circulatory system and may lead to chronic swelling, severe skin changes and venous ulcers over time. Since damaged or malfunctioning veins interfere with proper blood flow, treating them actually improves your circulation by rerouting blood to healthy veins.
Advances in technology and surgical techniques has led to vein treatments that are safer and more effective than outdated procedures such as vein stripping. Dr. Jimenez at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin is a pioneer in minimally invasive treatments, earning him a reputation as the vein expert of the Emerald Coast. Modern procedures such as Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), conventional or ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy and scleroablative therapy can effectively treat varicose and spider veins with minimal downtime, fewer complications and enhanced patient comfort. Dr. Jimenez has helped make minimally invasive procedures such as these the new standard for treating vein diseases.
Myth # 5: Venous diseases are cosmetic issues and don’t need to be treated, so vein screenings aren’t beneficial — FALSE
Many patients believe that venous diseases such as varicose veins are a cosmetic concern that doesn’t require medical treatment. While unsightly, the appearance of varicose or spider veins also points to problems within the venous system. Venous disease can progress over time and cause uncomfortable symptoms such as swelling, soreness and discomfort that can negatively impact your quality of life. The pooling, backed up blood that causes varicose veins may also lead to blood clots, deep vein thrombosis and other complications if left untreated. Even if your symptoms aren’t bothering you, we recommend an evaluation with Dr. Jimenez and the qualified specialists at The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin to properly assess your condition.
At The Vein Center of Florida & South Baldwin, we periodically offer free vein screenings designed to evaluate your vein health for an accurate diagnosis. Early detection of venous disease can help identify vein problems before they develop into a more significant concern, making screenings an important diagnostic tool for all patients. Dr. Jimenez performs all assessments himself. After your vein screening, Dr. Jimenez will explain the results and help you explore treatment options suited for your unique situation.
The internet provides patients with a wealth of information regarding medical procedures and DIY remedies, but sometimes it can be difficult for patients to know which treatments are harmful, helpful or downright dangerous. At The Vein Clinic of Florida & South Baldwin, our goal is to educate patients so they can make an informed decision regarding the management and treatment of venous disease. With locations along the Emerald Coast in Florida in Pensacola and Destin, and in Alabama in Foley, we welcome patients in for a consultation or free vein screening. Contact or call us today at 1-800-910-VEIN to start improving the health of your veins today.