We found this informative article from Mens Health.com and think it touches on some important aspects of vein health… especially for men.
If you’re like most guys, you figure that varicose veins are:
a) a woman’s problem
b) a punch line that includes “compression hose”
c) not a big deal.
As many as 56 percent of men suffer from these ballooned veins, according to British research.
And varicose veins are not just a cosmetic concern—they can lead to discoloration, bleeding, skin ulcers, and a “heavy leg” sensation that may hinder daily activity.
The problem involves the veins in the lower extremities. When you are in an erect position, your blood pools in these veins, expanding the vein walls which over time stop returning to their previous, more taut condition. According to French researchers, people with a particular genetic variation have markedly weaker veins, and have almost twice the risk for developing varicose veins.
“When the walls are weaker, it allows the veins to expand and eventually the valves [that regulate blood flow in the vein] don’t meet, which allows blood to reflux and flow in the opposite direction,” says Lowell Kabnick, M.D., director of the New York University Vein Center.
When that happens, the person develops the bulged, gnarly look of varicose veins—causing symptoms that include throbbing, swelling, and decreased mobility.
How can you avoid varicose veins. Take these precautions:
- Exercise: This is the easiest way to maintain healthy venous structure and keep your vein walls strong. It’s important to involve your calves, which play a crucial role in maintaining blood flow from your legs back to the heart.
- Reduce standing or sitting pressure: Sitting, which has been catching a lot of blame lately, takes another hit here. Why? Blood naturally pools in your legs when you’re not moving, and sitting for long periods exaggerates the problem. Your solution: simply tap a foot, raise your legs, or take a walk. If you’re standing still, sway from side to side if possible. Beyond that, try to raise your legs or lie horizontally twice a day for 15 minutes to remove all pressure on your veins.
- Compression hose: Dr. Kabnick recommends everyone wear knee-length compression stockings—even if they don’t have signs of varicose veins. Compression leggings’ tension pushes the blood up from the ankle (the greatest pressure point), and redistributes it more evenly up the leg. If you don’t need prescription-grade strength, aim for hose with 10 to 30 millimeters of mercury (measurement of pressure).
- Watch your diet: Stay away from foods high in sodium (especially restaurant, frozen, and packaged foods) since salt leads to fluid retention.
So, say you already have pain from raised bluish/brown veins. The good news is treatment of varicose veins has come a long way from the medieval-sounding “stripping” procedures of the not-so-distant past.
Today, doctors use lasers to remove and seal shut varicose veins. It’s a quick, noninvasive, outpatient surgery—and pain-free, too. For minor cases, a doctor might suggest sclerotherapy, a chemical injection that destroys the damaged vein.
“Going to the dentist is worse than removing varicose veins,” says Ronald Sprofera, of Jersey City, N.J. His surgery, performed by Dr. Kabnick, was over in 30 minutes. He never so much as flinched.
“I waited 10 years before I did anything,” said Sprofera, who had seen his mother suffer with varicose veins and the ensuing treatment years ago. “I shouldn’t have waited so long.”