If you’re one of those people who sees the words ‘varicose veins’ and immediately uncrosses your legs, then you need to read this.

Varicose veins are a condition that affects up to 40% of people in their lifetime – but for many of us, little is really known about what causes them and why.

Did you know that many so-called facts surrounding varicose veins are in, fact, nothing more than fiction?

With that in mind, we asked international renowned vascular specialist Professor Mark Whiteley of The Whiteley Clinic for his insight into what is actually true – and what’s nothing more than an old wives’ tale…

People who cross their legs are more likely to develop varicose veins

Nope – simply not true. Professor Whiteley says: “There is no evidence to suggest that this will cause varicose veins or make them worse once they have started to develop.

“They simply result from an intrinsic problem with the veins themselves, passed on in your genes from your parent, and so cannot be induced by people’s leg crossing habits.”

Only the old and the overweight will suffer from varicose veins

Wrong again – it’s actually all down to your genes. So you can thank your mum and dad if you have them.

“The biggest influence on varicose veins is your parents – and what genes they gave you. The condition can strike at any time of life,” explains Professor Whiteley.

“As with the majority of medical conditions, they are more common the older one gets but that doesn’t stop young people getting them if their genes determine it.”

He also says that weight has absolutely no influence on varicose veins developing.

Varicose veins are only cosmetic and don’t need to be treated

Professor Whiteley disagrees: “The truth is that, if not treated correctly, varicose veins are only going to get worse, and can lead to more concerning problems such as blood clots, skin damage and leg ulceration.”

So if you spot a seemingly harmless bulging varicose vein on the surface of the skin, you should consider getting it checked by a specialist as in many cases this can be a sign of an underlying venous issue.

Pregnancy causes varicose veins

You can’t get varicose veins from being pregnant, but it can cause them to ‘pop’ if the person has an underlying venous condition.

“Pregnancy may make that condition worse and bring them to the surface,” explains Professor Whiteley.

“Women often find that the troublesome veins seem to disappear following the birth of their child. However, they are usually only less swollen outside of pregnancy and with time or with a further pregnancy then they are likely to come back with a vengeance.”

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