Yes, it is not only normal but quite common for men to have varicose veins. In fact, somewhere around 40-45% of all men experience varicose veins at some point in their life.
Unfortunately, men are far less likely than women to talk to a doctor about varicose veins. That means fewer men receive treatment and more walk around silently suffering from symptoms such as aching, itching, and heavy leg sensations. So, let’s do away with a few myths that may be stopping you or a man you know from getting well-deserved relief.
Myth: Only women get varicose veins
Truth: Anyone can get varicose veins. That includes men, women, athletes, skinny people, young people, beautiful people, and, yes, even you.
While there is a higher reported incidence of women getting varicose veins than men, this may only be because women are more likely to talk with a doctor or researcher about it. It also may be because pregnancy increases the odds of developing varicose veins. But other risk factors for varicose veins include being overweight, a sedentary lifestyle, and age—all of which affect men and women roughly equally.
Myth: It’s normal for men to have large veins
Truth: Although some men do have large, prominent veins, every body is unique. It’s important to know what is normal for you and what is a sign of unhealthy veins.
If your veins bulge out from your skin but are nice and straight, then they are healthy. But if the veins in your legs twist back and forth like a winding river, those are varicose veins and should be checked by a doctor. This twisting is caused by an excess of blood pooling in the vein instead of being pumped efficiently back to your heart, and it tends to get worse over time.
Myth: Men shouldn’t care about varicose veins because they are just cosmetic
Truth: First, men can be just as self-conscious about their appearance as women. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about your varicose veins for any reason, please talk to your doctor.
Moreover, varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue. They are caused by an underlying medical condition called venous reflux (or chronic venous insufficiency or CVI). Venous reflux happens when the valves inside your veins fail to properly pump blood back to your heart. Blood begins to pool inside your veins where it can lead to:
- Aching or pain in the affected area
- Swelling of the legs and ankles
- Cramping or restless legs
- Itching or burning near the affected veins
- Skin discoloration or ulceration
- Blood clots
Don’t wait for more serious issues to develop. Talk to your doctor whenever you notice varicose veins so you can avoid potential complications.
Myth: Healthy men don’t get varicose veins
Truth: While we don’t fully understand why some people get varicose veins and others don’t, we do know there is a genetic component. That means if your father or mother (or aunt or uncle or grandmother, etc.) had varicose veins, you are more likely to get them regardless of how well you take care of yourself.
That being said, other factors that can contribute to the development of varicose veins include:
- Age: The risk of developing varicose veins increases as you get older.
- Obesity: Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on the veins in your legs and increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
- Prolonged standing or sitting: Spending long periods of time standing or sitting can increase the risk of developing varicose veins.
Myth: Real men don’t complain about the aches and pains of getting older
Truth: You should never ignore what your body is telling you. While varicose veins are not a medical emergency, they do indicate that your veins are not working as they should and likely will get worse over time.
Venous reflux occurs first in the large veins deep inside your leg which you can’t see. As these veins get overfilled with blood, they overflow into the smaller veins closer to your skin’s surface.
The excess blood strains your veins and surrounding tissues, which leads to cramping, pain, itching, and swelling. And all it takes is a routine procedure that can be performed in your doctor’s office to take the stress off your veins and provide you with relief.
Myth: I can’t get varicose vein treatment because I’ll have to miss work
Truth: You can get treated for varicose veins on your lunch hour and be back to work the same day. The procedure is minimally invasive and doesn’t require general anesthesia. That means you won’t be groggy afterward. Plus, while it is important to take it easy for a while, there are few restrictions during your recovery process. Furthermore, treatment is typically covered by insurance.
In conclusion, it is quite normal for men to develop varicose veins. It is also common for men to ignore them until they become a real problem. Don’t wait. If you or a man you know has this medical condition, speak with your doctor or call DeKalb Vein Center at 404-501-9377.