Actionable Tips for Men Suffering with Varicose Veins
Contrary to popular belief varicose veins are not something only women experience. In fact, research revealed in the Edinburgh vein study found that 39.7% of males deal with varicose veins, as opposed to 32.2% of women! Despite these numbers, only 10% of men actually seek treatment for a variety of reasons.
So, if you’re a man with varicose veins, what can you do? In this blog, we are going to discuss how veins work, how to recognize the common warning signs of varicose vein disease, and other actionable tips for men suffering with varicose veins.
Varicose veins are more than just surface deep
For years it was thought that varicose vein disease was “cosmetic,” but as we became better informed with the use of imaging technology and improved treatment options, we began to truly understand this disease process. Chronic venous insufficiency affects our quality of life, it affects our health – both physical and emotional. When we understand how veins work, it’s easy to understand why, when they don’t, we are in pain.
Normal blood flow brings oxygenated, nutrient rich blood through the arteries to the limbs. Then, the veins pick up the waste products and carbon dioxide and bring it back to the heart and lungs to be expelled and the process begins again.
Varicose veins, also known as CVI or chronic venous insufficiency, occurs when the valves in the veins in your legs leak, preventing the venous flow from leaving the legs properly and become incompetent and “reflux” just like acid reflux in your stomach. When the veins don’t work properly, a backup in flow occurs, and over time the pressure from the blood flow in the broken veins can cause the veins to stretch, as well as break down the vein wall, allowing toxins and waste products to leak into the surrounding tissue.
Be able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of varicose veins in men
When we typically think of varicose veins, we think of bulging varicosities. While this is definitely a sign of CVI, there are also many other signs and symptoms that may indicate we have a deeper issue taking place. Signs are how vein disease “looks”, while symptoms are how vein disease “feels”.
Below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of varicose vein disease that men should be aware of.
Visible signs of vein disease in men:
- Visible veins
- Varicose veins
- Discoloration in the lower leg
- Skin changes
Physical symptoms of vein disease in men:
- Achy legs
- Heaviness in legs
- Leg cramping
- Leg restlessness
- Leg throbbing
- Leg swelling
While most men have both signs and symptoms, you can sometimes have visible signs but no symptoms, or symptoms but no visible signs. CVI is a progressive disease however, so as with most other health related issues, early diagnosis can be key to preventing more serious issues down the road.
Understand the risk factors for varicose veins in men
Several factors contribute to developing chronic venous insufficiency in men, including:
- Heredity (#1 risk factor for men)
- Sitting or standing too much
While you have no control over genetics or gender, being aware of these risk factors can help you identify symptoms and signs quickly and lead you to seek the guidance of a vein expert. In addition, some risk factors can be decreased, such as making healthy choices to avoid or decrease obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Veins work against gravity, moving venous flow out of the legs and up towards the heart using a series of one-way valves and muscle contractions in your legs. When you walk, the flection in your feet combined with the contraction of the muscles in our legs squeeze the veins and propel blood to the heart. Many physiologists call the calf muscles our “auxiliary heart pump”Movement is the key to slowing and preventing varicose veins and can significantly improve symptoms. Although it seems counterintuitive, taking a short walk several times a day can help your legs feel better.
More actionable tips for men suffering with varicose veins
While running can be fun and even therapeutic, it is not necessary. Simply going for 15-20-minute daily walks can help reduce the pressure on your veins. In addition to walking, some great ways for men to exercise with varicose veins include:
- Equipment-free leg exercises such as squats, lunges and calf raises
Eat your way to healthier veins
Maintaining a healthy diet is another way to help with your vein health. Not only can eating healthy help maintain a healthy weight, but it can affect your hormones as well. Talk to a registered dietician for specific meal plans personalized to you. In the meantime, improve your vein health by:
- Eating more fiber
- Consuming more Vitamin C
- Drinking more water
- Ingesting more rutin (a flavonoid found in foods such as asparagus, berries, figs, and more)
- Limiting your salt intake
These are simple changes you can work into your daily diet with just a little planning. Learn more healthy eating ideas to improve your veins and arteries.
Know that varicose veins in men is common
Varicose vein disease is very common; in fact, it is estimated that up to 30 million Americans are suffering from varicose veins. Due to the number of people suffering from varicose vein disease, research performed in the last decade has provided healthcare teams with improved knowledge of the disease process, improved training and technology used for diagnostics, and a host of safe, outpatient treatment options.
Be proactive about seeking varicose vein treatment
While it may seem easier to just ignore your vein issues, don’t! CVI is a progressive disease and therefore will get worse as time goes on. This will lead to increased symptom severity and frequency, larger veins, and, over time, lower leg discoloration and venous ulcers, open wounds.
The earlier you seek treatment, the fewer procedures will be required, and the faster your recovery time. Although there is no cure for varicose vein disease, treatment and early detection are the best options to keep your legs healthy and symptoms free. Your vein disease will not go away on its own, so why wait for the process to get worse?
Understand your varicose vein treatment options
One of the silver linings of varicose veins being such a common issue is there are several treatment options, and depending on the severity of your CVI, most major insurance companies cover treatments. The first step is to discuss your concerns with your vein specialist.
Vein treatments can range from something as simple as wearing graduated compression stockings, to a combination of treatments to target specific vein types using treatments such as Endovenous Thermal Ablation Treatment, Radiofrequency Ablation Treatment (RFA), or other minimally invasive procedures such as ultrasound guided sclerotherapy.
The good news is, all of our vein treatment options are performed in an office based setting. They are performed safely, with minimal to no downtime and are described by most patients as painless. Many patients undergo procedures during their lunch hour and are then free to return to work and the majority of their daily activities.
What are you waiting for? Reach out to a vein specialist today for a consultation and take the first step toward relief!