Varicose Vein Disease in Men

Posted: Sunday, July 13, 2014   |   Revised: July 25, 2018

Some men have the misconception that varicose veins and other venous diseases are strictly a woman’s problem.  They may remember their mom’s swollen veins or grandma’s purple ankles; they may have seen what happened to their wife’s legs when she was pregnant, and they may count their lucky stars that they’re not one of them. If that’s your train of thought, gentlemen, think again! Around 50% of men will develop abnormal leg veins in some form. 15% of American men have more serious varicose veins with symptoms or complications.

A lot of men just aren’t concerned about how their legs look and might be inclined to blow it off when they start noticing bulging veins or darkening of the skin on their lower legs. Often they don’t see a vein specialist until their doctor recommends it or their wife or other loved one pressures them to do something about it.  But changes in the legs such as varicose veins and skin discoloration are not just a cosmetic problem! They are almost always a reflection of a defect in the circulation below the skin surface. Veins that aren’t returning the blood back to the heart efficiently allow blood to pool in the legs. That causes pressure and inflammation in the veins and in the tissues around them. The inflammation increases the risk of blood clots. It also can damage the skin and soft tissues in the areas where the pressure is greatest – typically just above the ankle – causing it to become discolored, firm and prone to sores developing.

While many studies have reported that women are more likely to develop varicose veins, men with vein problems are more likely than their female counterparts to develop a serious complication such as blood clot, skin damage or a chronic venous ulcer. These complications can result in significant medical expenses, missed work and decreased quality of life.

Prior to those complications happening, there are often warning signs such as the appearance of bulging, swollen varicose veins and symptoms such as heaviness, swelling, or aching in the legs. Men who work on their feet typically notice this more toward the end of the day than in the morning. Guys who are involved in sports or exercise may feel like they’re losing their edge because their legs tire faster than they used to. While they may chalk it up to being a normal part of aging, it may actually be due to the extra pressure and fluid in their legs because the veins aren’t working efficiently.

Simple things that can be done to help prevent vein problems are:

  • Walking regularly or doing other exercises that use the calf muscles.
  • Taking breaks during long periods of sitting or standing to put your legs up (to the level of your chest or higher).
  • Wearing a gradient compression sock to prevent fluid from building up in your veins during the day.

If you’re a man who is starting to notice some of these symptoms (or if you care about one who is) do yourself or him a favor and call our Ann Arbor Vein Clinic to set up an evaluation. It’s painless, and we promise it won’t compromise your manliness in any way! About 40% of the patients we treat are men. We love hearing them come back for follow up and talk about how much better they feel when they’re running, playing ball or working in the shop.

Suzanne Jones, MD

Comments are closed.