With all there is to love about summertime, the one drawback is that there’s no hiding behind long pants and boots once the heat hits.  We welcome June’s shorts & mini’s, but some of us don’t love seeing those spider & varicose veins out from under cover again.

While pondering whether aggressive spray tanning will effectively mask the problem {um, no}, we decided to check in on the FACTS on treatment of unsightly veins with the local experts at CHARLOTTE RADIOLOGY VEIN CENTERS. Turns out, there are plenty of myths and mis-information out there about this pesky condition, and not all are just cosmetic concerns.


MYTH: Varicose veins only happen to older women.

FACT: Millions of men and women suffer from varicose veins. More than 50% of women and men in the United States suffer from some type of vein condition, typically between the ages of 25 and 75.  It is true, however, that as you age, the valves in your veins may weaken and not work as well.


MYTH: I think of varicose veins as something that happen to overweight women, and I’m in pretty good shape, with an average BMI and a steady workout routine.

FACT: Vein disease can happen to anyone.  Risk factors include medical and hereditary history, increasing age, hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity, and  immobility.  Being overweight can put extra pressure on your veins, and pregnancy combines extra weight with a huge increase in the amount of blood in your body.


MYTH: My mother has varicose veins, but that’s because she had 3 kids and worked at a job where she had to stand up a lot.  I don’t have any yet, only have one child and have a desk job.

FACT: Having a family member with vein problems increases your risk ~ about half of all people who have varicose veins have a family member who has them too.  And both sitting and standing for long periods can force your veins to work harder to pump blood to your heart, especially if you sit with your legs bent or crossed.  If you have any of the signs of vein disease, best to get an evaluation.


MYTH:  Since pregnancy can cause them, it is best to wait until you’ve had all your babies & then deal with varicose and spider veins.

FACT: While pregnancy can contribute to varicose & spider veins, the new minimally invasive treatments are safe, virtually painless and, more than 98% of the time, lead to permanent resolution of varicose veins at their source. Which means they probably won’t get worse with pregnancies.  


MYTH: Well, I don’t have to worry about varicose veins; I don’t have any bulging or broken vessels in my legs.

FACT: Over 75 million Americans have vein disease, and a large percentage of those are unaware. Not everyone suffers from visible indications of vein disease; other symptoms include sensations in the leg(s) such as aching, burning, cramping, fatigued or heavy legs, and possible skin discoloration and/or open sores.


MYTH: My veins may be ugly, but they are just a cosmetic problem, and I’m not vain enough to have them fixed.

FACT: Many people mistakenly believe their vein problems are just cosmetic, when in fact there is a significant underlying vascular problem that is causing the asymptomatic varicose veins and/or spider veins. We recommend an ultrasound test to evaluate the blood flow within your veins. This simple test can be performed during your initial consultation.


MYTH: I workout hard several days a week, with a combo of cardio and weightlifting, to keep the “blood flowing.”  This should prevent any vein disease, right?

FACT: Exercise is important for vein health, but certain exercises are better than others.  Workouts that cause blood to be pumped back to the heart from the calf muscle and veins in the arch of the foot – creating a strong calf muscle – promote healthy blood circulation and minimize vein disease.  The best “vein health” exercise is walking, a low-impact activity that stretches and strengthens your calf pump, thereby improving your blood flow, as do other low-impact exercises like riding a stationary bike or using the elliptical.  

Strenuous weightlifting can put a strain on the venous circulation.  If you do lift weights, be sure to use good lifting techniques: lower weight and high rep routines, exhale when you lift.  You should also incorporate an aerobic activity like  walking or riding a stationary bike immediately afterward to get your blood circulating, and wear compression socks while weightlifting and directly after to assist with moving the blood upward towards the heart.


MYTH: The treatment ~ surgery and stripping ~ sounds much worse than the condition. I don’t want to have the surgery for something that is mostly cosmetic in my case.

FACT: Surgery is not at all your only option.  There are two minimally invasive procedures, Endovenous Laser Treatment and Sclerotherapy, which offer options for patients who suffer from painful and unsightly varicose veins. These techniques, often done together,  offer a 95% success rate and significant advantages over traditional methods. The Endovenous Laser procedure, from start to finish, takes about an hour and brings very little to no pain. Using ultrasound guidance, your physician will insert a small optic fiber into the varicose vein. Once the laser is activated, it heats the vein; then, as the laser is removed from the vein, it closes the vein. Once the vein is closed, the blood that was circulating through the impaired vein is naturally rerouted to other healthy veins.


MYTH:  Spider veins are just varicose veins waiting to grow up.

FACT:  While similar, spider veins are not necessarily just baby versions of varicose veins that will get bigger over time and turn into varicose veins.  Veins that “spider” are smaller, and closer to the skin’s surface than varicose veins. Spider veins are rarely are a serious health problem, but they can cause uncomfortable feelings in the legs. If there are symptoms from spider veins, most often they will be itching or burning. Less often, spider veins can be a sign of blood backup deeper inside that you can’t see on the skin. If so, you could have the same symptoms and treatment you would have with varicose veins.


MYTH: Since it seems like it’s a procedure to improve the way my legs look, it’s not going to be covered by insurance.

FACT: Most insurance companies and Medicare recognize vein disease as a valid medical expense and will cover the cost of the treatment after a period of conservative therapy. If you are experiencing any symptoms of vein disease, it is worthwhile to find out whether your insurance will cover the treatment cost.


MYTH: I can scoot into the doc around Memorial Day and have these treated with a little something, and I’ll be bare-legged and beautiful for swim season.

FACT: Maybe, but unlikely. The process to treat the underlying issue causing your varicose can take months (even for some of the surface ones, so they don’t keep coming back.)  And many insurance companies require you to wear compression hose/socks for a time to see if that helps, before they will cover additional treatments. The time to fix your veiny problems is NOW, several months before you want to bare those legs.


So, those are the facts ma’am.  If you have ugly spider or varicose veins that you would like removed, or are having any of the symptoms below, make an appointment with the specialists at Charlotte Radiology Vein Centers today.

  • An achy or heavy feeling in your legs
  • Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
  • Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
  • Itching around one or more of your veins





Charlotte Radiology Vein Centers offer the latest in minimally-invasive procedures for the treatment of varicose and spider veins, venous reflux and other medical conditions. Their interventional radiologists are highly experienced and sub-specialized in vascular care, able to treat your pain right at its source.  For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 704-367-7877. Or, schedule a consultation online.