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When to Worry About Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are a common concern that can worsen over time. They can cause severe discomfort if left untreated. But there are effective therapies and procedures that can help.

Key Points:

  • There are six different stages to varicose veins
  • Varicose veins need treatment to avoid complications
  • The best treatments are those that remove or seal the problematic vein

According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, 1 in 4 adults suffers from varicose veins. Women are the most affected, as well as people who are older, inactive, or overweight.

What Are the Stages of Varicose Veins?

There are a few different stages of varicose veins.

Stage One refers to spider veins. These are small, reddish-purple veins that usually appear on the legs, neck, ankles, or face. Spider veins do not always develop into varicose veins, but the cause is the same: chronic venous insufficiency.

Stage Two varicose veins are ropey and enlarged veins that can cause itching, burning, or numbness, along with tired and weak legs. Stage One does not always precede Stage Two.

Stage Three varicose veins cause swelling but do not cause changes to the skin. This stage is characterized by a reduction in the circulatory system’s ability to reabsorb fluid in the area, leading to swollen veins.

Stage Four presents with skin changes and discoloration. You may notice your legs are white or reddish-brown, and your skin may have a leathery texture. The skin can also be more prone to injuries.

Stage Five varicose veins cause skin changes with healed ulceration. Injuries to the leather-like skin can heal with treatment but often leave scars.

Stage Six can lead to injuries that refuse to heal, leaving you with chronic open sores throughout your legs.

Varicose Veins Symptoms

These symptoms can help you recognize that you may have varicose veins:

  • Dull leg pain
  • Aching pain
  • Disruption of sleep
  • Sudden swelling
  • Inflammation
  • Hot skin
  • Skin that changes from red to brown or purple
  • Discoloration

The symptoms can range from mild to severe. If left untreated, varicose veins can lead to permanent discoloration of the skin and skin that tears very easily.

Why You May Need Varicose Vein Treatment

Varicose veins do not get better on their own and generally worsen over time. If you do not receive treatment, you could suffer from serious complications.

Untreated varicose veins can cause severe pain as well as a deep heaviness in the legs. Itching and burning can be another concern if you have leaking blood vessels. This occurs when limited oxygen reaches the skin.

Untreated varicose veins can also lead to cramping, especially at night. Cramps can happen when blood pools in the veins instead of flowing through the muscle tissue.

Blood clots are another concern. If the vein twists, blood flow is not quick enough, and it can start clotting. A deep vein clot, or deep vein thrombosis, can form.

In later stages, skin ulcers are another issue to worry about. When blood does not circulate back to the heart, it builds up in the veins, putting pressure on the skin. The skin can tear and create an open wound.

If a blood clot makes it to the lungs, a serious condition called pulmonary embolism can occur. It can cause permanent lung damage.

Varicose veins can also cause lymphedema, which affects the lymphatic system. In some cases, soft tissue skin infections called cellulitis occur with lymphedema.

Peripheral artery disease is another serious condition that develops when veins cannot provide enough blood flow to the limbs.

If you are worried about varicose veins, and are looking for vein treatment experts in Los Angeles, Tarzana, Irvine, Long Beach or Rancho Cucamonga, the vein doctors at West Medical can provide accurate diagnosis and effective treatment.


The treatment of varicose veins usually begins with compression therapy. Compression garments squeeze the legs and put pressure on the veins and muscles to help with circulation. It is not a cure for varicose veins, but it can slow down the progression of the condition.

Sclerotherapy at West Medical is an excellent low-risk procedure. This minimally invasive treatment involves the injection of a special solution into the varicose vein. The solution collapses the vein, forcing the body to reroute blood flow through other veins.

To remove varicose veins, you can also turn to a microphlebectomy. This outpatient procedure involves making small incisions to remove the problematic veins.

At West Medical, you can also get one of the best treatment options for varicose veins: radiofrequency ablation (RFA). RFA utilizes heat from radiofrequency to collapse the veins, sealing them.

Similarly, endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) uses laser heat to shrink and then seal the vein.

At West Medical, you can find many advanced treatments for varicose veins performed by experienced professionals.

What Are the Patient Outcomes of Varicose Vein Treatment?

Varicose vein treatment options like sclerotherapy, microphlebectomy, RFA, and EVLT are all very effective at removing or sealing off the varicose vein. They offer pain relief, and they can stop the progression of the condition.

Your vascular surgeon can tell you more about your expected outcomes, including any risks associated with the various treatment options. Maged S. Mikhail, MD, RVT, PhD is our chief vein specialist at West Medical. Dr. Mikhail is board certified in venous and lymphatic medicine, critical care medicine, anesthesiology and pain management and has decades of experience treating problem veins.

Common Questions Associated with the Treatment of Varicose Veins

Get the answers to the most common questions about varicose veins.

What Happens If Varicose Veins Are Left Untreated?

Varicose veins usually worsen over time. If not treated, they can lead to severe pain, skin ulcers, blood clots, and even lung damage. In the most severe cases, you can suffer from peripheral artery disease.

Can Varicose Veins Affect Your Heart?

Untreated varicose veins can affect your circulatory system, so in extreme cases, they can impact your heart health.

When Should I Seek Medical Attention for Varicose Veins?

If your varicose veins cause pain or discomfort, it is crucial to turn to a doctor.

Schedule an Appointment with West Medical

For treatment of varicose veins and better vein health, make an appointment today with the experts at West Medical. We have locations across Southern California and the Los Angeles area in Tarzana, Irvine, Long Beach, and Rancho Cucamonga. One of our expert team members will be happy to help you!




Radiofrequency Ablation

Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)

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