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Varicose Veins: 3 Serious Complications

Written By: Emma Squillace

Varicose veins are common – millions of Americans suffer from them. And while sometimes these visible veins do not cause symptoms, often they do. Many people find their varicose veins cause aching or itching, pain when they stand up or sit down, or a tired & heavy feeling in their legs. These symptoms can get in the way of exercise, make work-days more difficult, and can be exhausting. But for some people, varicose veins are even more dangerous. There are several ways in which varicose veins can cause substantial health concerns.

Varicose Ulcer

Ulcers caused by varicose veins are called venous ulcers. These are caused by blood leaving the vein and getting caught under your skin. This trapped blood can look like a sore with a red base, and you may find that the skin around the sore is tight or warm to the touch. You may feel itching or tingling, and have leg pain. An ulcer can be frustrating because of the uncomfortable symptoms, as well as the amount of time it takes to heal. For some people, venous ulcers heal very slowly. It is important to see a doctor if you believe you have developed – or are developing – an ulcer caused by a varicose vein. A vein doctor can give you instructions for wound care to promote healing. They can also help you evaluate whether treatment of your varicose veins can prevent future ulcers.

Ruptured Varicose Vein

A varicose vein is usually bulging or twisted, and can include strong pressure from the pooling blood. A vein like this can rupture – sometimes because of an injury, and sometimes without any notable cause. When a varicose vein ruptures, the bleeding can be fairly substantial. If this happens, elevating your leg so the bleeding vein is higher than your heart, and putting pressure on the bleeding area, are immediate steps that may help. If you’ve suffered an injury that break the skin, you may bleed through the open wound. However, if the vein ruptures on its own or the skin is not broken, the blood will pool beneath your skin.  If you’ve had bleeding of your varicose veins, it is a good idea to see a vein doctor as soon as possible. A bleeding varicose vein can be scary because the pressure inside the vein can make it appear although there is a lot of flowing blood.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis – often called DVT – is a dangerous condition that can even lead to death. DVT occurs when a blood clot forms somewhere in your body. This blood clot, which often forms in the legs, can break loose and travel to an organ like the lungs. A blood clot that goes to your lungs can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. How are varicose veins and DVT related? When you have a varicose vein, blood can pool in your leg. Your body could sense this and think that you are losing blood. However, often this blood is contained within the bulging vein. In response to the perceived ‘bleeding,’ your body may form a clot to protect you. This increased likelihood of forming a blood clot is the primary reason that people with varicose veins are at heightened risk of the dangerous condition of DVT.  

Varicose veins are uncomfortable, unsightly, and carry the potential for serious medical problems like vein rupture, leg ulcers, or DVT. The good news is that varicose veins can usually be treated successfully with minimally invasive treatments like sclerotherapy or laser treatment.   Often, medical insurance covers varicose vein treatment.  The vein experts at West Medical would be happy to answer any questions you have so please give us a call at (855) 690-0565.

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