There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding varicose and spider veins, especially concerning the type of people who get them, and treatment options. However, knowing the truth about these unsightly and uncomfortable conditions can actually help you make better decisions on how to deal with them.

Below are some of the more common myths:

Myth: Varicose veins are more serious than spider veins.

Varicose and spider veins are actually the same thing. Both conditions are caused by faulty valves inside the veins disrupting blood flow. As a result, blood tends to pool in the lower extremities instead of flowing continuously back to the heart. When it happens in the tiny veins, it creates tiny, blue and red, web-like spider veins. When it happens in larger veins, it creates large, blue, ropy varicose veins.

Myth: Men do not get varicose veins.

Women are four times more likely to develop varicose and spider veins, but that does not mean men are out of the water. In fact, the University of Nebraska Medical Center indicates that 20 percent of men have significant leg vein problems, and men are more likely to delay treatment than women.

Additionally, men can develop varicose veins in other areas, like the scrotum.

Myth: Varicose and spider veins are a sign of aging.

While age could be a factor for some people, the truth is that anyone of any age can develop varicose and spider veins. In fact, heredity is the biggest risk factor for varicose veins– if your parents, siblings, and other close family members have them, then you are more likely to develop them yourself. Because heredity is such a major factor, it is possible for someone to develop varicose veins in their twenties, and even in childhood. However, it might take years for the condition to progress until the veins are visible on the surface of the skin.

Myth: Varicose and spider veins only happen to overweight and unhealthy people.

While obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and other unhealthy habits are all considered risk factors, heredity is still the biggest factor. However, regular exercise, a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and reducing your alcohol consumption can slow down the effects of heredity and improve your overall health.

Myth: Varicose and spider veins are strictly cosmetic.

Most varicose and spider veins are harmless, but some could be a sign of chronic venous insufficiency and other cardiovascular conditions. If you have a family history of hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, you should consult your physician for cardiovascular screening.

Myth: Varicose and spider veins can only be treated surgically.

There are several treatments that can reduce the appearance of varicose and spider veins, as well as some of the symptoms including:

·  A heavy, congested feeling in the legs;

·  Itching and swelling;

·  Muscle cramps and muscle soreness; and,

·  Discoloration.

Some of the treatments for varicose and spider veins are topical. Treatment involves the use of compression, which replaces the faulty valves; and some involve lifestyle modifications, such as increasing physical activity levels.

In many cases, a doctor might recommend a number of topical and lifestyle treatments before choosing surgery. However, if the veins do not respond to these other treatments, or if there is a risk of a more serious cardiovascular disease, he might recommend surgery.

Myth: Surgical treatments are painful and invasive

There was a time when the only surgical treatment was removing the faulty veins. Today, there are several non-invasive solutions to varicose and spider veins including endovenous laser therapy, where they seal the inside of the vein with heat; and sclerotherapy, where they use a chemical process to seal the inside of the vein. Both procedures can be performed in an outpatient setting with local anesthetic.

Myth: Surgical treatments are not covered by insurance.

Some treatments might not be covered by insurance if they are performed for cosmetic reasons. However, because varicose and spider veins can also be the sign of a medical condition, it is possible that your insurance may cover some procedures.