If My Problem is Varicose Veins, Why is my Skin Changing?
Varicose veins can be accompanied by a number of unexpected symptoms, not the least of which is changes to the color and texture of the skin. While skin changes are not unusual in the more advanced stages of venous diseases, many varicose vein sufferers are surprised to see their skin discolor as a result of what it going on deep below the skin’s surface. There are some very specific reasons why the skin tends to change when varicose veins are left unchecked, and why this is a good time to seek treatment for those swollen veins if you have never done so before.
Causes of Skin Discoloration
Understanding the causes of skin discoloration begins with learning about why varicose veins appear in the first place. Venous insufficiency is a chronic condition that occurs when the veins in the lower legs stop transporting blood back up to the heart as efficiently as they once did. This leads to blood pooling in the lower extremities and the swelling of the veins as pressure inside increases.
When pressure increases inside the vessels, blood flow to surrounding skin and tissue decreases. Inflammation can occur at this point, which begins with skin redness that can gradually evolve into brown discoloration. Other changes can also occur to the skin in the advanced stages.
Symptoms of Skin Discoloration
You may see a number of changes to your skin as a result of venous insufficiency:
- Skin becomes red, irritated and inflamed
- Swelling of the lower leg can make the skin hard and painful
- The skin are can become dry, itchy and may ooze fluid
- Skin can turn brown and leathery, with scaling or crusting
- Open sores can develop that are painful and difficult to treat
- A serious bacterial infection, known as cellulitis, can develop
If you start to see changes to your skin as a result of your varicose veins, and sometimes even without any varicose veins, the earlier you seek treatment, the better your prognosis will be. It is critical to get a good functional ultrasound with a registered vascular technologist (RVT) that will take at least 30 minutes per leg, to determine the cause. Treatment will likely consist of both topical treatments for the skin and treatment to eliminate the underlying venous disease by eliminating backward flowing blood. Today, minimally-invasive treatments using radiofrequency and laser technology can effectively eliminate those swollen veins with minimal discomfort and downtime.
As skin changes progress, they can be more difficult to treat entirely. Patients may find the discoloration does not go away completely, even after the varicose veins are eliminated. Open sores, known as venous ulcers, are challenging to treat completely and have a high recurrence rate if the underlying cause is not treated. Early treatment is imperative to ensure least permanent damage and the best possible outcome. To learn more about your options in vein treatment, contact Center for Vein Restoration at 610-200-6924.