5 serious complications that can start with varicose veins

Painful varicose veinsMany of our patients come to us with varicose veins. The National Institute of Health says that 25% of women and 15% of men have them.

For most of our patients, varicose veins are caused by genetics, lifestyle, or occupational factors. When left untreated, they can cause discomfort, leg pain, and swelling. Many people don’t like the look of varicose veins, which bulge out along the leg. Some patients experience shame, embarrassment, or fear of others seeing their varicose veins.

Thankfully, varicose veins are easy to treat and remove. However, waiting to get your veins treated can lead to more serious health problems, as these issues will only worsen over time. Here are five complications that can arise from varicose veins.

  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Deep Vein Thrombosis is a serious medical condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein in the body. Typically these clots form in the legs or thighs, but they can also form in the upper body and lead to Upper Extremity DVT. People with varicose veins are at an increased risk of developing DVT, which can cause swelling, cramping, and severe pain. Untreated DVT can lead to a pulmonary embolism which is when a blood clot moves to the lungs. This is a serious condition that requires emergency care and could be life-threatening.
  • Leg Ulcers: Varicose veins are an early symptom of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Without proper treatment, CVI can worsen, affecting more veins and even leading to leg ulcers. A leg ulcer is a large, open wound usually located near the ankle. These wounds are challenging to treat and can be very painful. We offer treatments that reduce the risk of infection and gangrene.
  • Excessive bleeding. Varicose veins sit near the surface of your skin and are more susceptible to cuts and scrapes. When you cut or damage the skin near a varicose vein, it can lead to excessive bleeding that may be difficult to stop. Seek medical attention if you suffer a cut near a varicose vein, and the bleeding doesn’t stop when you apply pressure or elevate your leg.
  • Skin issues. One of the most uncomfortable side effects of varicose veins is varicose eczema. Eczema occurs when the skin is irritated. It’s like a rash but more difficult to treat. Some patients develop large patches of eczema near varicose veins or even blisters and sores.
  • Lipodermatosclerosis: Sometimes, varicose veins cause lipodermatosclerosis, a condition that causes the skin to harden and become tight. Lipodermatosclerosis causes your skin to change color and usually occurs near the calves. It is tough to treat and often non-reversible.

For many of our patients, varicose veins aren’t a big deal. They are common and easily treatable if you take action when they first appear. If you allow your varicose veins to progress, you’re more likely to experience potentially serious complications. Don’t wait. If you find varicose veins on your legs, call us to schedule a consultation.