Think varicose veins are an affliction limited to females? Think again. This condition can impact men and women alike, as the statistics reveal. Unfortunately, the perception that varicose veins are primarily a female problem keeps many men from seeking treatment for their bulging vessels. Left unchecked, varicose veins can progress to become painful, unsightly and more difficult to treat. Advanced Vein & Vascular Center encourages men to tune into the potential problem of varicose veins so they can detect the problem and seek treatment as early as possible.
What are Varicose Veins?
The majority of varicose veins are caused by an underlying vein condition known as chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. This condition occurs when small valves inside the vessels wear out or become damaged over time. Because these valves are responsible for ensuring blood travels in a single direction in the vessel, damage to the valves means blood can reflux or back up in the affected vein.
The reflux of blood is problematic for a number of reasons. First, it can lead to weakening and swelling of the vein, which can result in varicosity. Second, the increased pressure inside the vessel can result in less oxygen and nutrients getting to the tissue and skin surrounding the vein. This may progress to visible symptoms like skin color and texture changes and even the formation of open sores on the lower leg, known as venous ulcers.
Who is at Risk?
Although women do tend to develop CVI more frequently than men, it is far from isolated to the female gender. In fact, as many as 45 percent of men will develop varicose veins at some time during their lives. There are a number of risk factors that may increase your odds for this condition, such as:
Heredity – If one of your parents has varicose veins, you have a 25-percent increased chance of developing the condition as well. If both of your parents have varicose veins, the risk goes up to 90 percent. You may also have an increased risk for these swollen vessels if you or family members have an increased risk of other types of vein disorders like blood clots.
Age – Varicose veins tend to be more common in the over-50 set. Loss of muscle mass and weakening of vessel walls are often culprits in age-related varicose veins. However, that doesn’t mean younger men can’t (and sometimes do!) develop the condition as well.
Occupation – Jobs that involve long periods of standing or sitting, or those that require frequent travel may increase the odds you will develop varicose veins. Both standing and sitting without breaks increases the strain on the lower leg veins to move blood back up the body to the heart. Traveling by plane means changes to air pressure that can wreak a bit of havoc on your vascular system.
Lifestyle – Men that have sedentary lifestyles tend to be more likely to develop varicose veins for a couple of reasons. First, lack of activity means the calf muscles aren’t doing much flexing. Because the flexing helps to push blood back up the body to the heart, lack of activity means the lower leg veins have to work that much harder and become more prone to damage. Second, a sedentary lifestyle is often associated with weight gain, which can also increase pressure on the vessels.
What are the Symptoms?
For men, varicose veins are often not as much of a cosmetic problem as they are for women. Hairy legs can disguise much of the bulging and men can easily hide the problem under slacks in the workplace. For this reason, some men may not take much notice of varicose veins unless they develop some of the following symptoms:
Restless Legs – Characterized by an uncomfortable and uncontrollable urge to move the legs, this symptom is often one of the first signs a man has varicose veins. Restless leg syndrome frequently strikes at night when you are trying to rest and can significantly impair your ability to sleep.
Pain – It may feel like a dull ache, muscle cramping or a general feeling of leg fatigue, especially at the end of a long day. The discomfort can become severe enough to keep you from enjoying certain activities or force you to cut some of them short.
Swelling – The discomfort may be accompanied by swelling of the lower leg, foot and ankle. Swelling frequently appears near the end of the day and may be relieved by elevating the legs for a period of time.
Skin Changes – Increased pressure in the vein can also lead to skin changes over time. You might notice that the skin around your vein starts to itch or burn. Over time, the color of the skin may change to a brownish hue and the skin may seem thicker and tighter than before. When skin gets to this point, even the smallest nick in the skin can lead to the formation of a large, gaping open sore known as a venous ulcer. These sores tend to have a high infection and recurrence rate, making them very difficult to treat.
It is best to seek a diagnosis and treatment for varicose veins shortly after some of these symptoms begin to appear. The earlier you treat your veins, the less likely you will be to develop more serious complications like venous ulcers.
What Kind of Treatments are Available?
At Advanced Vein & Vascular Center, we offer a variety of varicose vein treatments that allow us to tailor each procedure to the unique needs of our patients. From tried-and- true injectable therapies to state-of- the-art procedures, we can help you say goodbye to those swollen vessels with minimal discomfort and downtime involved. Some of our options include:
–VNUS Closure (radiofrequency vein ablation uses RF energy to eliminate veins)
–EVLT (endovenous laser treatment uses laser energy to eliminate veins)
–Sclerotherapy (injectable treatment for spider and smaller varicose veins)
–Ambulatory Phlebectomy (minimally-invasive procedure removes veins in small sections)
–Compression Stockings (non-invasive treatment to manage uncomfortable symptoms)
All of our treatments work equally well on male and female patients, offering you a number of options in getting rid of varicose veins for good. To learn more about these procedures or find out which one is the best choice for you, contact Advanced Vein & Vascular Center today at .