Men: Don’t Wait To Get Help For Vein Problems
Anatomically, men’s leg veins are no different from women’s leg veins. In fact, looking at ultrasound imaging of a leg, one would be hard-pressed to tell if it belonged to a woman or a man. Venous disease can affect both men and women, yet men tend to present with the worst vein problems, such as leg ulcers (open wounds). Why is this the case?
Anecdotally, phlebologists have observed that women tend to get help for their vein issues as soon as they can, while men will often wait until the problem becomes too painful to ignore. The result is, more often than not, leg ulcers that won’t heal. Even men who are athletic are susceptible to venous disease. Sometimes men with vein problems misinterpret their symptoms, mistaking the pains of venous disease for a strained or pulled muscle.
Once patients recognize that there may be vein issues present, the important thing is to seek help as soon as symptoms present themselves, regardless of the patient’s sex. Venous conditions like varicose veins get worse with time, and the longer one waits, the more extensive the condition and the treatment could become.
The key for male patients, in particular, is to get evaluated as soon as the symptoms become apparent. Common symptoms of venous disease include:
- Leg fatigue or heaviness: When legs feel good upon waking but are intensely tired or heavy at the end of the day, this is an early warning sign.
- Swelling: Swelling can be caused by many things but also serves as a very early warning sign for vein problems. In any case, legs that frequently swell shouldn’t be ignored.
- Skin changes: Redness, skin thickening or other color changes on the legs and/or ankles is a common (and commonly overlooked) symptom. Other skin changes, such as dermatitis, cellulitis, dry or scaly skin, or brown “stains” on the skin can be signs of advanced venous disease, and should be evaluated by a physician.
- Spider veins: Spider veins are blue or purple-colored veins that occur under the skin but are close enough to be seen on the surface. Treating them can improve appearance, as well as stop the progression of venous disease at its source.
- Varicose veins: Another sign of early stage venous disease, varicose veins are visible veins in the leg that bulge, often protruding through the skin.
- Ulcers: An open wound on the leg or ankle that fails to heal can be the result of ongoing venous disease. In fact, “venous ulcers” in the leg are often an indication that venous disease has reached an advanced stage.
Venous disease is a progressive disease that is not curable, but for most people, even debilitating symptoms are completely treatable. Today’s vein treatments are done on an outpatient basis and are minimally invasive and nearly pain-free.
Treatment can stop the progression of venous disease and its complications for those in all stages of the disease, however, early intervention is generally best-tolerated while improving quality of life. For those struggling with late-stage symptoms, it is still possible to restore health. The best medicine is to seek help before the problem becomes unbearable.
Dr. Cindy Asbjornsen is the founder of the Vein Healthcare Center in South Portland, Maine. Dr. A Diplomate of the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine, she cares for all levels of venous disease, including spider veins, varicose veins, and venous ulcers. She is the only vein specialist in Maine to be named a Fellow by the American College of Phlebology.
You can contact Dr. Asbjornsen at 207-221-7799 or firstname.lastname@example.org.