When people think of varicose veins, they tend to believe they only occur in women. While it is more common, it is not necessarily true. A study has shown that varicose veins can affect up to 45% of all men at one point during their lives, and although it may seem like a cosmetic issue, it is important that varicose veins are seen by a doctor as they can often signify a serious underlying health condition.
As with women, varicose veins are primarily hereditary but can develop when a person repeatedly experiences long periods of either standing or walking (usually associated with the job they do every day). Varicose veins occur when valves in the vein weaken and blood pools begin to form in the veins, causing the valves in the veins to further weaken. This then allows blood to flow back and forth, known as reflux, which is what causes the varicose vein. This condition is known as venous insufficiency.
As you grow older, veins naturally begin to lose their elasticity, causing them to stretch. Varicose veins can be hereditary, so if anyone in your family had them, you’re at greater risk of getting them as well. Other factors such as obesity increase your risk. When you’re overweight it places more pressure than necessary on your veins, which then begins to weaken the valves in your veins.
As mentioned above, varicose veins are not just a cosmetic issue. Significant disability may result from venous insufficiency and this can eventually lead to a bigger problem if not treated accordingly. One of these complications can be deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in the body. Usually when this begins to happen, pain and swelling occurs, however, some patients can also have DVT and be asymptomatic. These blood clots have the potential to lead to a pulmonary embolism which is definitely life threatening.
There are many other complications such as leg ulcers, skin thickening, discoloration, infections, and numbness that can happen if your varicose veins are not treated properly in a timely fashion. In order to begin to treat and avoid further varicose vein development, a visit to your physician along with a few lifestyle modifications are necessary.
Begin to increase your physical activity along with frequent breaks from long periods of either standing or walking. This will also help you lose weight, if necessary, which will decrease your risk of developing more damaged veins. Elevating your legs and wearing compression stockings can also help decrease your risk.
To learn more about the different treatments and options available for your varicose veins, schedule your consultation with one of our board certified physicians and surgeons today! If you would like to get started safely online you can submit your symptoms and photos to us using our Online Vein Screening. All submissions will receive a call back from one of our doctors, at no charge.
Learn about Dr Lawrence Markovitz, a board certified heart surgeon here