Varicose Veins: A Common Condition in Men
Varicose veins aren’t just a problem for women. Men can get varicose veins too, particularly if there is a family history of vein disease. Unsightly varicose veins aren’t always just a cosmetic problem either.
Venous disease can be painful and sometimes lead to other medical conditions. In some cases, complications such as blood clots and phlebitis may occur. Most men are not aware that varicoceles are also a form of vein disease. Consequently, men need to learn more about their vein disease, how age is a risk factor, about varicoceles, and what measures are available for the management of their varicose vein issues.
Age as a Risk Factor
Age is a risk factor for varicose veins for either sex. Simply put, vein disease is a progressive disease for both men and women. The condition builds off of itself and becomes more severe in both men and women as they get older.
Veins can lose elasticity with age; therefore, when the valves in a person’s legs fail, the affected vein(s) can very quickly become a varicose vein. As a result, instead of blood in your lower extremities moving back up toward your heart, these varicose veins allow the blood to flow back into your leg veins where it collects. This increases the pressure within the veins which over time can cause the veins to stretch and dilate as a result of the combination of weakened vein walls and damaged valves that normal keep the blood in your legs from flowing backward.
While older men are at higher risk, varicose veins can affect men at any age-old or young. But many men don’t seek medical treatment for varicose veins or don’t seek treatment until they begin to experience symptoms.
Varicose Veins in the Scrotum
In addition to developing varicose veins of the legs, some males get varicose veins in the scrotum-a condition that can impair testosterone production and lead to infertility. Known as varicoceles, these enlarged veins often are discovered during a routine physical exam. When valves in the veins around the testicles aren’t working, blood backs up, causing the veins to swell.
Doctors treat the condition by surgically repairing the affected veins. Surgery seals off the affected vein and redirects blood flow through other veins. For most males, testosterone levels return to normal within a few months.
Varicoceles can also cause early onset male menopause, for which surgery is a treatment option. Doctors use Doppler ultrasound or a surgical microscope during the procedure to repair veins, alleviating symptoms and increasing testosterone production.
Treatment of Varicose Veins in the Legs
The treatments for varicose veins are the same for men as for women. Doctors generally recommend lifestyle changes as a treatment option if you experience only minor symptoms such as itchy skin over the affected veins, heaviness of the legs, or an achy feeling.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
Weight management is a key treatment of varicose veins to reduce symptoms and prevent complications. Therefore, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight. Extra pounds put added pressure on your veins, increasing your risk of varicose veins.
You can keep vein walls strong with regular exercise. Exercises that work your calf muscles help push blood from your legs back up to your heart. Cardiovascular exercises like walking, swimming, jogging, and cycling are good for improving circulation in your legs.
Change Body Position
Blood pools in your legs when you don’t move, so avoid sitting or standing in the same position for too long. If your job requires that you sit for extended periods of time, simply tapping your foot can help get the blood moving upward.
If you’ve been standing in the same position for a while, flex your ankles up and down, mimicking the movement of your ankles when you walk. Once you can get off your feet, elevate your legs so that they are higher than your heart to take pressure off your leg veins.
Wear Compression Socks
Your doctor may prescribe compression socks that put additional pressure on the feet, ankles, and calves. The tight fit of the socks helps squeeze the veins and push blood up from the ankle to prevent it from flowing backward and pooling in a vein.
When symptoms are more severe, your doctor may recommend a medical procedure such as chemical injections or noninvasive laser surgery to seal off or remove varicose veins.
If varicose veins are causing you discomfort, contact the professional staff at the Sheen Vein Institute to discuss what course of varicose vein treatment may best address your condition.