A surprisingly large percentage of men are under the false impression that varicose and spider veins are strictly, or at least primarily, “female issues.” While it’s true that more women than men are affected by varicose veins – with an estimated 70 percent affected to some degree by age 60 – this condition still affects an estimated 40 percent of men by age 60, so it’s certainly not something either sex should ignore.1
Causes and Risk Factors
The primary function of the veins in your body is to transport blood from your extremities back to your heart. But just as muscles and bones begin to weaken over time, veins do as well. They can grow weak, dilated and stretched out, which hinders the veins’ ability to propel blood back to the heart and causes some of the blood to pool around the ankles. It is this pooling of blood that causes veins to look clustered, discolored and engorged. The three main risk factors for varicose veins include standing/sitting for prolonged periods of time, a family history of varicose or other vein problems, and pregnancy (hence the reason women tend to be more susceptible than men).
Varicose Veins Are Strictly a Cosmetic Concern … Right?
This is another common misconception regarding varicose veins, and while it’s true they are oftentimes just a cosmetic issue, if left untreated they can also cause bleeding, discoloration, skin ulcers and a heavy, uncomfortable sensation that can make daily activities challenging and/or painful. Other common symptoms experienced by both men and women include swelling, muscle cramps and an overall sense of tiredness in the legs.
Ways to Ward Off Varicose Veins
- Stay active. The most surefire way to keep the walls of your veins as strong, healthy and taut as possible is to exercise regularly. While any form of exercise will help promote good health and vein structure, exercises that target the calf muscles tend to be especially beneficial, as the calves play a pivotal role in maintaining optimal blood flow from your lower extremities back to your heart.
- Consider wearing compression stockings. Compression hosiery is often recommended for individuals with varicose veins – or anyone prone to circulation issues – because they promote healthy circulation by helping push blood up from the ankle, the body’s greatest pressure point, and back to the heart. Many physicians, surgeons and vein specialists will recommend wearing compression stockings even if you don’t have varicose veins, as virtually everyone can benefit from improved circulation. So even if you don’t have any signs or symptoms of this condition, it’s still a good idea to invest in some good quality medical compression hose that are properly fitted.
- Reduce sitting/standing pressure. As mentioned, individuals who sit or stand for prolonged periods of time, whether because of their profession, hobbies or any other reason, are at an increased risk of developing varicose veins. That said, if your job requires you to sit the majority of the day, keep your blood pumping (and not pooling) by raising your legs or taking frequent short breaks to walk around the office. If you find yourself standing in one place for a while, perform calf muscle pump exercises by raising your toe up and down.
- Know your family history. As briefly mentioned above, having a family history of varicose veins is the strongest indicator you might also experience this condition. Therefore, it’s important to be familiar with your personal and family health history to know whether you’re at a heightened risk of developing this or a number of other hereditary issues.
Don’t Delay Treatment – Get Help in the Valley Today!
Because a large number of men view varicose veins as something that only afflicts middle-aged women, they tend to be less likely to seek treatment, and oftentimes only do so once the issue has progressed to the point of being severe, either in terms of discomfort or appearance. It’s important not to take these issues lightly; treatment is essential, regardless of sex or gender, to ensure what seems like strictly a cosmetic issue doesn’t grow into a bigger issue that’s more difficult to treat.
If you’re a Phoenix metro area resident who suspects you, or someone you care about, may have varicose veins, we encourage you to contact the experienced team at Morrison Vein Institute, where better care and better results are our top priorities. To learn about the variety of safe, effective treatment options we offer for spider and varicose veins, contact us online or call 480.775.8460 to schedule an appointment today.