Can a Varicose Vein Rupture?
It’s possible for a varicose vein to spontaneously rupture and cause excessive bleeding. Here’s what you need to know to stay safe.
Given that varicose veins lie so close to the skin’s surface, it’s not surprising these bulging veins sometimes rupture. A bump against a table edge or nick from shaving, for example, can result in spontaneous and excessive bleeding.
A ruptured varicose vein is a serious complication and requires immediate medical attention. Before you go to an urgent care center or the emergency room, cover the area with a gauze pad or towel and apply pressure with your fingers. To stop the bleeding, elevate your legs above your heart. You should also wrap an elastic bandage around the vein.
Veins carry more blood than capillaries, so the bleeding can be profuse — and quite alarming. If you have varicose veins, you need to take special care to ensure the veins don’t burst.
What Causes Ruptured Varicose Veins
Within the leg veins are tiny flaps, or valves, that counter the force of gravity to pump blood from the extremities back to the heart. When those valves weaken due to age, weight, or a number of other factors, the blood remains within the vein and thins the vein wall. As blood pools and pressure builds, the vein may burst. The further down the leg the veins are, the more pressure they are subject to, which explains why varicose veins near the foot or ankle are most likely to rupture.
In some instances, the varicose vein may burst, but you may not see any blood. An internal rupture is marked by bruising. If the blood loss is significant, you could feel dizzy or faint, and should seek immediate medical attention.
An external rupture breaks the skin and can cause excessive bleeding, especially if you are on blood thinning medication. Applying pressure to the wound and elevating your legs will stop the bleeding; however, you should take a trip to the ER for treatment and follow up with a vein specialist soon after for further diagnosis and treatment.
Keeping Your Veins Healthy
To prevent a rupture, you can follow some at-home precautions. First, protect your legs from any potential cuts or scrapes that could prompt bleeding. Because hot water tends to widen the veins, leading to an excess of blood pulsing through the veins, you should avoid baths and showers at high temperatures.
Nevertheless, the only permanent solution for varicose veins — and the bleeding that might sometimes occur — is one of several minimally invasive surgical techniques. A 1993 study concluded therapies that closed off or removed the damaged vein successfully stopped varicose veins from suddenly bleeding in patients who had experienced a significant spontaneous bleeding incident.
The Center for Vein Restoration offers treatment to eliminate varicose veins in an outpatient setting that gets you back home in an hour. If your varicose veins bleed, your first stop should be to the ER. After the bleeding is contained, make an appointment with us to discuss your treatment options to keep your veins safe and healthy.