Can a Varicose Vein Rupture?

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Varicose veins are twisted, swollen veins that lie just under the skin surface and are most commonly seen in the legs.

These veins form when the weakened or damaged one-way valves within the veins fail, allowing blood to pool or flow backward (a condition called reflux). As a result, the veins become enlarged, grow dark purple or blue in color, and bulge outward as if ropes lie right under the surface of the skin.

As we get older, the skin overlying varicose veins, even very small ones, thins and becomes susceptible to spontaneous rupture, sometimes resulting in very significant bleeding.

According to Nick Morrison, MD, FACS, FACPh, a physician expert with almost 25 years of experience caring for people with vein disorders, warns that vein rupture often happens in the shower and can be a frightening experience. Dr. Morrison describes varicose vein rupture as potentially “looking like the shower scene from the movie ‘Psycho.’” And while the thought of this may seem gory, Dr. Morrison advises people in this situation to try and not panic and follow his instructions.

What to do if a Varicose Vein Ruptures

Dr. Morrison describes the emergency treatment as relatively simple and assures that bleeding will stop nearly every time by following these instructions. Using these directions, he believes that it is extremely unlikely the person will lose enough blood to be dangerous.

If you experience a ruptured varicose vein, Dr. Morrison advises:

  1. Lie down and elevate your leg higher than your heart (e.g., lying on the floor, on your back, with your leg up on a chair).

  2. Apply direct pressure with a small towel or washcloth held firmly in place by a hand for 20 minutes. If possible, have someone other than yourself apply the hand pressure.

  3. Continue to lie down with your leg elevated for up to 60 minutes.

  4. Once the bleeding has stopped for 15 minutes, apply an Ace™ bandage or gauze wrap. If you do not have this on hand, send someone to the pharmacy to get the supplies while you remain in the leg-elevated position.

  5. If bleeding starts again, repeat the process.

  6. If the bleeding continues after the process has been repeated, call 911.

Can You Predict if a Varicose Vein Will Rupture?

While there is no way to predict if a varicose vein will rupture, Dr. Morrison advises that older people with thin, easily damaged skin are more prone. There is no evidence that any medication makes one more predisposed to varicose vein rupture, but if the patient is on anti-anticoagulant drugs, they are likely to bleed more freely once rupture has occurred, says Dr. Morrison.

Can a Varicose Vein Rupture Happen Twice?

If left untreated, Dr. Morrison predicts that it is likely that the patient will experience another rupture. For this reason, Dr. Morrison recommends that the person seek treatment by a vein specialist for diagnosis and treatment to prevent recurrence—or risk “witnessing that blood bath again.”

Find a Vein Specialist in Your Area

As the nation’s leader in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disease, Center for Vein Restoration are specialists in providing safe and affordable treatment. You can go back to the life you love—free of the worry of another vein rupture. Our vein treatments are usually covered by insurance and can be scheduled quickly.

Visit our website or call 240-965-3915 to schedule an appointment today!

Author: Nick Morrison, MD, FACS, FACPh

Since 1995, Dr. Morrison has focused his practice on the diagnosis and treatment of venous and lymphatic system disorders. He is experienced in a variety of vein treatments including endovenous thermal and chemical ablation, ambulatory phlebectomy, ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy, and visual sclerotherapy. He has recently taken great interest in newly-emerging non-thermal and non-tumescent approaches to ablation, including adhesives and implantable devices.

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