Yes, Young Adults Can Get Varicose Veins. Here’s Why.
Vein disease expert, Diana Wilsher, DO, DABVLM, is the lead physician at the Canton, MI, Center for Vein Restoration location. She specializes in diagnosing at treating varicose veins, spider veins, and other disorders associated with chronic venous insufficiency.
Often, we associate vein disease with older people. When asked about venous insufficiency, most people imagine the elderly as the ones who endure itchy, painful, or swollen legs. They assume that one must be older to suffer from varicose veins or spider veins, leg ulcers, or skin changes on the legs and ankles.
However, while age is a risk factor for developing symptoms of vein disease, it is not the leading cause of this condition.
Does vein disease affect young people?
“Yes,” says Dr. Diana Wilsher. “Young people (age 40 and younger) are susceptible to venous disease because the number one risk factor is heredity, not age. And while there are many ways a person can reduce their risk of developing symptoms of vein disease, one cannot change their genetics," she says.
Why do people equate vein disease with being older?
After years (sometimes decades) of progressively weakening leg valves, it’s often not until later in life that the painful symptoms of vein disease get to the point that one seeks medical intervention, explains Dr. Wilsher.
“It is not uncommon for the vein disease process to start much earlier in life. Often young people don’t even realize that they are having symptoms of venous insufficiency.” -Dr. Diana Wilsher
What are the early signs of vein disease?
Suppose a young person has a job that requires them to stand for long periods (such as in a warehouse, fast food, retail, or other industries). In that case, they can experience tired, achy, cramping legs by the end of the shift, describes Dr. Wilsher. They come home, prop their feet up and feel better, and don’t give it another thought. These uncomfortable symptoms, however, could be a sign of early vein disease.
Dr. Wilsher adds that it is easier for younger people to dismiss these early signs because the symptoms are milder than after the disease process has been going on for twenty or thirty years. These younger patients assume that the symptoms are a normal consequence of being on their legs all day. However, Dr. Wilsher emphasizes, these symptoms are not normal and should not be dismissed.
Can young people get varicose veins?
“People as young as eighteen to twenty years old have come to me suffering from large, bulging, painful varicose veins,” recalls Dr. Wilsher. Often these younger patients incorrectly attribute varicose veins and swelling to sports. While these symptoms are rare for a young person, it is a sign of underlying venous insufficiency that a vein specialist must address.
She reiterates that “vein disease is chronic (long-lasting), worsens over time, and is never going to get better by itself without medical intervention.”
Is vein disease harder to treat if it’s been going on for years?
Luckily, vein disease that started during a person’s youth is not harder to treat, according to Dr. Wilsher, and the treatment options will be the same. However, because vein disease is a progressive disorder, the symptoms can worsen and lead to skin discoloration, leathery, flaky skin texture, or even leg ulcers. It’s in these later stages that the treatment becomes more complicated, says Dr. Wilsher.
“Ideally, a young person would get their mild symptoms treated before the symptoms become advanced,” - Dr. Diana Wilsher.
What are the risk factors for young people?
The main risk for people of any age to develop vein disease is heredity, says doctor Wilsher. Obesity, which is not unique to younger people, is increasingly becoming a problem and is a concern for Dr. Wilsher. We have a population of people obsessed with their screen devices (phone, computer, television, etc.). As a result, they are not getting the physical activity needed to prevent vein disease, says Dr. Wilsher.
She fears that this sedentary lifestyle in the younger population will put them at higher risk of developing vein disorders in the future.
What can a young person do to prevent vein disease?
Dr. Wilsher recommends the following to help young people reduce the risk of developing the symptoms associated with developing vein disease:
- regular exercise
- maintaining a healthy weight
- avoiding standing or sitting for extended periods
- elevate the legs after standing for a length of time
Are the treatment options different for a young person?
Dr. Wilsher says that she approaches all new patients first by getting a thorough health history. In a youthful person, she will assess the severity of the venous insufficiency (as she would a patient of any age). If she finds that it is mild, she will recommend conservative measures such as compression stockings. The Rejuva line of compression socks is particularly appropriate for younger people as the selection of socks is lightweight and comes in a variety of fun, bright patterns, and colors.
What should a young person do who is concerned about vein disease?
Dr. Wilsher stresses that anyone concerned about their vein health seeks the consultation of a vein specialist. For her part, she would talk to the patient about their concerns, go over symptoms and discuss ways they can take control of their vein health, now and in the future.
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Wilsher or any of CVR’s highly qualified vein experts, call 1-800-FIX-LEGS or visit centerforvein.com for more information.