Men’s Leg Health: almost 30 percent of Australian men suffer from varicose veins.
Often when young men think of varicose veins, they think of their Mum or Grandma. And with pregnancy, the contraceptive pill and menopause high among the possible causes, it’s easy to see why there is a misconception that varicose veins only effect women.
However vein disease is not gender specific and many men will also suffer from varicose veins. Researches say between 20-30 percent of men will suffer from varicose veins in their lifetime.
The study also highlighted that for men, increased height, lower educational level, and a family history were associated with a significant, independent increased risk of varicose veins. It’s therefore possible that the less-educated men had jobs that required prolonged standing, which increases risk of the condition.
Additionally, many men believe that varicose veins are a cosmetic issue and do not seek treatment.
Why Do Varicose Veins Occur?
Your arteries carry oxygen-rich blood away from your heart, and veins return it back for oxygenation. We have deep veins that are surrounded by muscles which help to propel the blood forward. Then we have more superficial veins that are situated in the skin’s fatty layer. These types of veins are not influenced by muscles but they are part of a complex venous network. Both types of veins have flaps of tissue called “vein valves.”
As the blood travels along the veins to the heart, the vein valves ensure it flows in one direction only. Think of it as a swinging door that pushes the blood inside but doesn’t allow it to flow in reverse. If the effects of gravity or muscle contractions cause the blood to pool or try to back up, the vein valve closes automatically, preventing the blood from flowing backward.
When blood is not able to flow back up to the heart, it begins to reflux or pool, forming twisted, enlarged vessels you know as varicose veins.
Tip: Bulging veins do not always equal muscle mass. Some people mistakenly consider bulging veins on a man to mean that he is muscular and fit, but what he may, in fact, be suffering from is venous disease or varicose veins.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins have many possible causes, including:
- Professions that require long periods of sitting or standing
- Trauma to the leg area
- Oral contraceptive pill use
What can men do to prevent varicose veins?
As there are a variety of causes for varicose veins, it is difficult to find one prevention method. The best solution is try and keep your body as healthy as possible, through a balanced diet and regular exercise.
For those who are vulnerable to the disease, here are some steps to help relieve the symptoms:
- Yoga: as well as strengthening muscles, there are many yoga poses which involve elevating your legs – by elevating your legs you are aiding your body in draining the blood back to your heart, this assists in improving vein health and also alleviates pain. Be advised that there are some prolonged abdominal yoga poses which may not be recommended.
- Walking: a low-impact exercise which allows you to stretch and strengthen calf muscles, walking is highly recommended both for the prevention and treatment of vein disease.
- Running: another way of stretching and strengthening calf muscles, running can be very beneficial for vein health. However running can also put strain on your joints and make varicose vein symptoms worse.
- Cycling: stationary bikes provide a low-impact cardio option, nonetheless in some cases intensive cycling or extended periods of time crouched over handlebars can increase abdominal pressure and reduce the blood flow to your legs, which can exacerbate varicose vein symptoms.
- Mountain Climbers: a simple exercise to do from home, Mountain Climbers build strength and endurance while improving blood flow between your heart and legs.
- Ankle rotations: these are a really easy exercise to do while sitting down, so are great for office workers and people who spend a lot of time travelling. Flexing your calf muscles and rotating your ankles helps to maintain healthy blood flow. Also, while sitting or standing, rocking your feet on the ground from heel to toe activates the calf pumping mechanism and improves circulation.
- Elevating legs: When you elevate your legs, ideally above heart level, it helps keep the blood from pooling in your lower legs and improves blood flow to the rest of your body.
Treating varicose veins
There are a few reasons why varicose veins should be treated. Aside from the visual improvement, damaged veins can sometimes lead to more serious health issues such as blood clots and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
The old way of dealing with the condition was to have complicated surgery to strip the veins, but now, thanks to new methods and technologies, it is much simpler and quicker.
Tip: Compression socks do not cure varicose veins. Wearing compression socks or stockings is sometimes prescribed to help improve circulation. Whilst this is a good temporary measure it will not stop varicose veins from causing long term damage.
Seek expert advice
The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;
- Walk-in walk-out treatment
- 98% success rate
- Extremely effective
- Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
- No general anaesthetic
- Medicare rebates apply
- No downtime or time away from work
To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 535 017. Or, complete the form below to receive a call back from one of The Vein Institute team.