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How does having varicose veins affect mental health?

I have unsightly varicose veins around my ankles, and want to have them treated, but my husband says they are just a cosmetic problem, so I should not worry about them. How could having varicose veins affect my mental health? Have there been any studies proving that varicose veins have a negative impact on self-esteem?

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Doctors Answers (2)

If you have true varicose veins on your ankles they would be large and bulging. Most commonly on ankles is spider veins. If you have symptoms such as heaviness, aching, leg cramping, restless legs, etc. you should have an ultrasound to determine if there is an underlying problem. That would need to be treated first. If you have spider veins around ankles, both men and women can be embarrassed, and not wear shorts or sandals. Insurance will not cover asymptomatic spider veins. If you are truly embarrassed by them, treating is the best option which is a series of sclerotherapy and/or laser treatment. Many women come to our clinic with the same concerns you have and are then able to have the freedom to wear what they like for the first time. There have not been any studies specifically on the effect on mental health, but any physician who treats veins can confirm that many people feel they have to hide their legs. So it is similar to having something like pigmentation of your face which you get treated, wrinkles on the forehead which you get treated with Botox, or coloring the grey in your hair because it embarrasses you. It can be liberating for your self esteem.

You should be evaluated by your phlebologist. There is often underlying disease that can be treated and is paid by insurance if you are symptomatic. Your husband is correct in that about 50 percent of these are cosmetic, but the other 50 percent can be more serious.

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