Do you think you might have a DVT? Call our DVT & LEG HEALTH HOTLINE 833-687-6887
By Samuel P. Martin, MD, FACS
Men are generally slow to recognize vein disease and signs of its progression. Even when dealing with symptoms such as itchy, achy legs, they tend to be in a state of denial. Frequently, men don’t appreciate color (brownish discoloration) changes or thickening of the skin or spider patterns around the ankle. In contrast, women are generally more sensitive to such changes, often motivated by cosmetic concerns. Women are also quicker to identify vein problems because they are caused by and exacerbated by multiple pregnancies.
Vein disease in men tends to progress more slowly than in women because pregnancy can bring on the symptoms of vein disease a lot quicker. Men may not notice vein disease as quickly as women for many reasons.
Despite some of the differences that men and women have, the end result and late complications of vein disease are similar.
One common vein disease symptom that appears in both men and women is skin changes. Skin changes occur along the inner aspect of the ankle and lower calf, often causing this tissue to become tender with warmth and frequently a pinkish discoloration. These symptoms are particularly common when someone has been up on their feet for a prolonged period in hot weather. Although physicians sometimes misinterpret this pinkish discoloration as an infection called cellulitis, it is stasis dermatitis, an inflammation of the skin. Stasis dermatitis is a vein disease symptom caused by the inflammatory fluid passing from veins into the surrounding tissue.
Unfortunately, venous scans performed at most hospitals and outpatient facilities only look for clots and do not give an accurate picture of the functional problems of the veins. As a result, venous reflux (valve leakage) is often allowed to progress over several years, which often results in serious vein disease problems such as:
Women have a higher health IQ, and men are generally less attentive to their bodies and rarely seek help when questions arise. Too many men feel that health concerns imply weakness and are even embarrassed to seek medical advice. This leads to procrastination, which allows problems to progress.
Men must become more attentive and fight their initial instincts to ignore swelling, itching, dry skin, and discoloration. If any of these vein disease symptoms arise, a consult with a vein specialist is necessary. Ideally, the vein specialist will suggest that the patient:
It is not an accident that women tend to live longer than men. If you notice skin changes, tenderness, swelling, or general discomfort, whether you’re a man or woman, it’s essential to recognize these probably indicate a sign of deeper problems. If you’re a woman with a man in your life who is ignoring these warning signs, feel free to speak up and reach out on his behalf for a consultation to evaluate his veins. Trust us. He’ll thank you.
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