Varicose Vein Treatment: Are Varicose Veins Harder To Diagnose In African Americans?

 If you do a Google Image search for varicose veins or varicose vein treatment in African Americans or “black people,” you’ll find that the majority of images that show up are of fair skinned Caucasian people. You might be tempted to ask, “What’s wrong with Google?” or “Why isn’t Google returning relevant results?”

The truth is that varicose veins are easier to see on fair semi-translucent skin than on darker skin, unless the varicose veins are really bulging out and in an advanced state. If you don’t believe us, try doing this Google Image search yourself.

These observations may lead to questions like, “Is it harder to diagnose varicose veins in black people?” and “Is it more difficult to tell if an African American person needs varicose vein treatment than a Caucasian person?” To answer this question, consider the following:

On June 30, 2012, the UK’s Daily Mail published an article with the tantalizing headline, “varicose veins are like icebergs – most of the problem lies beneath.” This article featured a vein specialist complaining about the fact that the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) in the UK had decided that virtually all varicose vein treatment was “cosmetic” and decided not to pay for these procedures. As a result, the people on his vein clinic’s long waiting list had to forego their much needed varicose vein treatment.

This same vein specialist stated that by the time people actually noticed the varicose veins on their legs, the underlying condition is much worse than most people had realized. Frankly, this is why visual appearance of varicose veins should not be the primary way you tell if you have varicose veins, whether you are African American, Latino, Caucasian, or some other ethnicity with a different skin color. What matters is not what you can see on the surface of your skin but the other symptoms you experience.

For example, if your legs swell, especially at the end of the day and especially around your ankles, the chances are good that you have a varicose vein problem and you may need varicose vein treatment. Schedule an appointment right away with Metro Vein Clinics. Here’s another great example. Do your legs itch at night when you’re just laying in bed or perhaps while you’re at work sitting at your desk? Itchiness, with no apparent reason such as a rash or an insect bite, is a major symptom of varicose veins. If you’re experiencing unexplained itchiness, even without visible signs of varicose veins, you should get yourself to a vein clinic like Metro Vein Centers right away.

Here’s another reason why your skin color simply doesn’t matter in testing for whether or not you need varicose vein treatment. Yes, your vein doctor will visually inspect your problem areas, and he or she may even feel the area with their fingers, the main test for varicose veins, venous reflux (the blood flowing the wrong way due to a damaged vein valve), and associated blood clots is a duplex ultrasound, also known as a doppler ultrasound. This test uses SOUND waves to penetrate your skin and look at your veins in a three dimensional view that has nothing to do with your skin color!

Duplex ultrasound results are COLOR BLIND because there’s no difference between looking at an African American’s veins versus a Caucasian person’s veins using a duplex ultrasound.

Wouldn’t it be nice if society saw all people through a duplex ultrasound?!! This is something to ponder as we celebrate Martin Luther King.

With regards to African Americans, epidemiological studies have shown that African Americans have a lower incidence rate of varicose veins than do Caucasians living in American.

A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology in September, 2003, looked at an ethically diverse sample of 2,211 men and women in San Diego, California. African Americans were only thirty-four percent as likely to have deep vein varicosities than non-Hispanic whites. They were only thirty-five percent for superficial (varicose veins close to the surface).

Hispanics and Asians were shown to have a lower incidence of varicose veins than Caucasians as well. However, African Americans had the lowest incidence of all the ethnic groups in the large scale study.