Can Men Get Varicose Veins Too?
Don't believe the myth that varicose veins affect only women.
One of the many myths swirling around varicose veins is that men don’t get them. It’s true varicose veins statistically affect women more than men because of hormones released during pregnancy and menopause, Men are nevertheless subject to many of the same risk factors as women. Heredity, overall activity level, age, and weight all contribute to the development of varicose veins.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 45 percent of men will develop varicose veins during their lifetime. A study published in the journal Circulation estimated 22 million women and 11 million men between 40 and 80 years old will experience swollen leg veins. The misconception that varicose veins only affect women may prevent men from seeking treatment that could relieve the pain and swelling caused by varicose veins.
Why Varicose Veins Occur
Recently, more men have come forward with stories of how they treated their varicose veins. Last year, Barstool Sports’ founder Dave Portnoy humorously recounted his varicose vein surgery. In 2019 British radio personality Chris Evans reported on his varicose vein procedure. Their tales may encourage more men to get their varicose veins treated and not keep the condition hidden.
Why someone develops varicose veins depends on several factors. Heredity is one: If your parent or grandparent had varicose veins, your chances of developing them increase. Working at a job where you sit or stand for long periods restricts blood movement. Similarly, weight gain and lack of exercise add additional pressure on the veins. An abnormally fast heart rate, known medically as supraventricular tachycardia (SVT), may also lead to varicose veins as the body struggles to keep up with the rapid heart pace. These factors extend to both women and men.
How Varicose Veins Can Impact Your Health
Whether they develop in men or women, varicose veins are not just an unsightly cosmetic issue. In addition to the uncomfortable symptoms, varicose veins hint at deeper problems within the veins and circulatory system. Specifically, valves in the leg veins are tasked with closing tightly and pushing blood back to the heart malfunction, leaving the blood to collect within increasingly stressed vein walls. This venous reflux, as it is called, leads to protruding varicose veins.
In addition to the pain and swelling, varicose veins can produce serious complications. Discolored skin around the varicose vein is usually the first sign of a developing skin ulcer, which can be hard to heal and even lead to infection. Restricted or slowed blood flow through the veins also raises the odds of deep vein thrombosis. DVT is a blood clot in the leg that could be potentially dangerous if it breaks away and ends up in the lungs.
Known Your Treatment Options
You can’t change your family history, but you can change your lifestyle. Simple exercises such as a daily 30-minute walk that strengthen the calf muscles support blood flow in the veins. If sitting for long hours either at the office or on a plane, move around as much as you can or flex your ankles for several minutes at a time. Putting on compression stockings is another at-home treatment that boosts blood flow in the lower leg. At the end of the day, lie down and elevate your legs above your heart to redirect blood in the right direction to the heart. Eating a healthy diet low in sodium and rich in colorful vegetables improves vein health as well.
But as Dave Portnoy and Chris Evans detailed, treatments are available for varicose veins. Procedures such as sclerotherapy, endovenous heat therapy, and ambulatory phlebectomy, can safely treat varicose veins with minimal downtime.
Center for Vein Restoration has helped thousands of patients — men and women — overcome the discomfort of varicose veins. We’ll discuss your treatment options in detail and help you find the one most suitable for your needs. Contact us today for a consultation.