Venous Disease In Men

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2014   |   Revised: July 25, 2018

Learn about the misconception that varicose veins and other venous diseases are strictly a woman’s problem.

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.*

Some men just aren’t that 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, spouse 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 disorder in the circulation below the skin surface. Veins that aren’t returning the blood back to the heart efficiently are allowing blood to pool in the legs, causing pressure and inflammation in the veins and the tissues around them. 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. For many men this is not just a normal part of aging – it is 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 veins. 
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 office 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.


“99% of all statistics tell only 49% of the story.”  -Ron DeLegge

The exact incidence of venous disease has been hard to determine. The medical literature reports it as somewhere between 1-60%. Quite a range! So, what is the truth? Do you have a 99% chance of not having vein problems, or more than a 50:50 chance your legs will be a mess someday?

Part of the problem in pinpointing a more precise number has been defining venous disease. This was helped in 1994 with the development of standardized classification of venous disease called the CEAP classification. This stratifies vein problems into 6 distinct levels of severity. CEAP has made it easier for researchers to communicate what they’re actually studying. If you look at legs with a magnifying glass and count everyone with a spider vein as having venous disease, your reported incidence will be quite high! If you only count people who’ve had a complication such as blood clot or skin changes, your numbers will be much lower.

Another problem is the difficulty of large population study designs. How is the data collected? Is it self-reported or are there objective examiners? How many people dropped out of the study? Where was it conducted? Can the results from that location be generalized to other areas?

More recent research into venous disease is trying to address some of these issues. Interestingly, as that has happened, the observed difference between the frequences of vein problems in men and women has narrowed or disappeared completely

Comments are closed.