Men & Varicose Veins

Can men get varicose veins?

Because varicose veins are associated by many people with pregnancy and childbirth, the fact that men can also suffer from this unsightly, uncomfortable condition is sometimes overlooked. That’s despite the fact that up to 45% of all men will experience varicose veins during their lifetimes.

 

The same but different

Other than the obvious exceptions, the varicose vein risk factors for both men and women are very similar. Family history plays a huge part – and unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to change that. The areas you should rather focus on are the lifestyle factors that can contribute to your chances of developing varicose veins as a man. Your treatment options as a man are exactly the same as those for women – the only difference being that men may well only seek treatment once the condition is more advanced. It’s well-known that men are typically less likely to seek medical treatment than women are, all other things being equal.

This could be for cosmetic reasons: men are less likely to feel that their legs are being scrutinized when they’re exposed, and body hair may hide the external signs of varicose veins.

 

Causes of varicose veins in men

If your day involves long periods of sitting or standing in the same position, you’re more likely to develop varicose veins. For example, a lot of hours of driving or working at your desk.

Past leg injuries (such as from sport) can also predispose you to developing varicose veins. If you’re overweight (which puts additional pressure on your veins), or suffer from constipation (possibly as a result of not having enough fibre in your diet) then again, you’re in a higher-risk group.

Varicose veins are also more likely in older men – as you age, your veins can lose some of their natural elasticity, leading to weaknesses in the valves in your vein. This in turn can cause blood to ‘leak’ in the wrong direction. As it pools, it causes the blood vessels to enlarge – in other words, it leads to varicose veins.

 

Why varicose veins matter

Varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue – they can also indicate a more serious, underlying health concern in your cardiovascular system. Left untreated, varicose veins can lead to a number of potential complications, some of which can even be life-threatening.

These can include deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – a condition that involves a blood clot forming in one of the veins in your leg. If this blood clot breaks free, it can ultimately cause a pulmonary embolism.

Leg ulcers are another potential consequence of varicose veins. Not only are they sore, but they also leave you prone to infection.

 

What treatment options exist?

As with varicose veins in women, the good news is that a number of effective varicose vein treatments are available for men. These may begin with lifestyle changes (including altering your diet, getting more exercise and drinking more water). In more serious cases, seeking medical advice is recommended.

 

Help is at hand

If varicose veins are preventing you from doing the things you love – whether it’s your job or playing golf – there are a range of solutions that can make a big difference to your quality of life. Learn more by arranging a consultation with Dr Francois Steyn on 012 993 4161 or 012 993 0911, or at francois@surgeon.co.za