By David T. Jacobs, MD
A gentleman recently presented to my office with longstanding aching and heaviness in the legs. Over the last few years, large, bulging veins began to appear on both legs. He stopped wearing shorts, going to the beach, or participating in sports, for fear that his legs would be seen. Even worse, due to the ever-worsening aching and heaviness, each day at work was torture. He needed to stand for hours on end for his job, and by the end of the day he was in such pain that he could do little else than raise his legs as he sat on the couch.
“This has become the vein of my existence” were the words he spoke to me at his first visit. He was making a joke, but there was a lot of pain behind that joke.
When people think of people with varicose veins, they usually picture a Bubby or great-aunt, who always wears long skirts or thick hose to hide her legs. But the reality is that varicose veins can affect anyone—young, old, male, or female. In the United States alone, it is estimated that about 25 million people have varicose veins. That is a huge number!
While traditionally it is associated with women, about a third of varicose-vein sufferers are men (in my practice the number is somewhat higher; I estimate that roughly 40% of my varicose-vein patients are male).
I use the term “sufferers” deliberately. While many do consider varicose veins to be unsightly, I am much more concerned with the symptoms associated with this diagnosis than the appearance of the legs. Varicose-vein patients report aching, heaviness, swelling, exhaustion, and more. Some patients even experience clots from slow blood flow in the veins, or bleeding from ruptured veins. These symptoms can take a tremendous toll on a person’s daily life, to the point where they can no longer participate in activities that bring them health and joy.
The good news is that there is no reason to live with this problem. Varicose veins often stem from a problem with the underlying veins which feed them. A simple, office-based procedure can treat these problem veins, relieving pressure and rerouting blood into normally functioning veins deeper in the leg. Recovery is quick and the discomfort involved is minimal. Since this is a medical issue, treatment is usually covered by insurance. Many of my patients wish they had the treatment years ago, rather than suffer with what they thought was simply an embarrassing cosmetic issue. The sooner the underlying vein issue is treated, the less likely it is that a person will develop problems that will require extensive treatment to resolve. The initial consultation is always no-cost, so if you’re experiencing symptoms like my patient above, please come in to be evaluated by our expert vein team.
Don’t let varicose veins be “the vein of your existence!”
David T. Jacobs, MD, is the only dual board-certified phlebologist (vein specialist) and radiologist in the New York metropolitan area. His practice, South Shore Vein & Image-Guided Medicine, is located in Rockville Centre and can be reached at 516-865-1234 or at southshorevein.com.