Father’s Day is coming this weekend…and that means you and I will be bombarded with spam and facebook posts with the typical banal statements that relate to the day.
If you’ve read any of my other Vein Blog posts, you’ve already realized that I tend to approach things with either an “outside the box” or “there is no box” viewpoint; my take on Father’s Day is no exception.
It turns out that Father’s Day is mostly about chronic venous disease. Let me explain…
We just sent our 13-year-old son off to sleep-away camp for 8 weeks. Prior to this I think we emptied most of the shelves at REI and Sports Authority [if you were looking for those boys size large t-shirts and didn’t find any, sorry].
Anyway, we were at a shoe store and the salesman asked me what I did for a living and I said “I’m a private dancer, a dancer for money” like I always do…and he giggled, like few do…and then I said that I am a doc specializing in treating chronic vein disease…varicose vein treatments, spider vein treatments and such.
“Oh, so you see a lot of old ladies, right?”, said the salesman.
“Nope”, I said, “Actually I mostly see men and women ranging from their 30’s to 60’s.”
In fact, the first procedure on my schedule the next day was a guy in his 40’s. There are SO many misconceptions regarding vein disease…ageism and sexism is only part of the problem, but it’s a big part.
Vein Disease in Men is a thing. Varicose Veins in Men is a thing. It’s a common thing.
During my hour-long consultation appointments with new patients, I always ask about medical problems that run in the family. One of the main risk factors for developing vein disease is a history of it in the immediate family.
Basically if one parent had it, you…whether you are a man or woman… have a 50% chance of getting it. if both parents suffered from vein disease, even more likely. Given the fact that genetics plays a role, men are absolutely at risk for developing chronic vein disease.
Women have a higher prevalence due to the effects of pregnancies as well as having higher levels of estrogen and progesterone floating around. [Click here to learn more about vein disease]
With few exceptions, whenever I ask a patient whether their dad had vein disease, I typically get the answer, “I’m not sure…I never really looked at my dad’s legs…and he never complained about it…never had a procedure for it….never wore compression stockings…”, etc.
I’m not sure if it was a generational thing, or a machismo thing, but men would rather suffer in silence for many years rather than seek medical attention for their vein disease. If and when they ever did see a doctor about it, a few things would likely happen:
- The doc may have just ignored/minimized the issue. Better docs would at least offer compression stockings
- The doc would refer to a surgeon who would suggest vein stripping surgery which dad would balk at doing because of cost/pain/downtime/fear
So Dad would continue to suffer in silence…and the chronic vein disease would slowly, insidiously progress over the course of many years…until the varicose veins got markedly bigger; the pain would get considerably more uncomfortable and negatively impactful on daily activities; skin changes would occur…even ultimately skin ulcer formation.
Ignoring problems always has consequences. Chosing to do nothing is still a choice. A bad one.
Take President Richard Nixon, for example. Apparently he suffered with vein disease for many years. He had an episode of phlebitis…inflamed varicose veins…after a trip to Japan in 1965. His un…or under-addressed vein disease ultimately led to a deep vein clot and pulmonary embolism in 1972.
Though celebrated since the early part of the 20th century, Father’s Day was first signed into law as a national holiday in 1972 by President Nixon. Perhaps he should have also instituted the 3rd Sunday in June as “vein disease awareness day”,too…it might have saved him a few vein hassles of his own.
Back when surgery, stockings and sclerotherapy were the only options, I guess I can see why Dad, and even President Nixon, may have opted out. But nowadays, given the advent of minimally-invasive, maximally comfortable and impressively effective treatments…it’s sad…a tragedy…when I see end-stage problems that could have easily, comfortably been avoided at an early stage.
Here’s a great example of before/after vein treatments in a (now) very happy gentleman:
- Vein disease happens in both men and women.
- It’s a disease that starts when you are young,not older…even as a kid or teen. It only gets worse over time.
- State-of-the-Art vein treatments that I provide at Rosen Vein Care are minimally-invasive, comfortable and have no down-time. Many (especially those required for men) are covered by commercial insurance and Medicare (Dads like that last fact most of all!)
- Coverage can often take weeks to months to achieve so its best to get seen as soon as possible to start the approval process.
Remember all those times that dad picked you up after a fall…dusted you off…kissed boo-boos…applied band-aids? Well, it’s payback time. This Father’s Day, do what few kids do…but is the right thing to do: ask your dad about his legs.
If he says they bug him…ask about bulging veins…leg swelling…leg discoloration. If he fesses up about that stuff, help him make an appointment to see me. Come with him, too and show your support. I can even arrange to see you at the same time and address concerns about your legs!