The Symptoms and Complications of Varicose Veins

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Varicose veins aren’t just a cosmetic issue. They can cause debilitating symptoms and complications.

Varicose veins affect about 35 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. Many affected by varicose veins don’t experience any distinct side effects, and consider the bulging twists of blue or purple veins a cosmetic issue.

Yet you may be one of many who experience debilitating varicose vein symptoms that greatly interfere with your quality of life. If you fall into that category, you have a number of self-care and surgical options available that could lessen your discomfort. But first, let’s look at some of the most common symptoms associated with varicose veins.

Varicose Vein Symptoms

The most visible sign of varicose veins are raised ropes of veins along the calf and ankles. Those enlarged lines develop because veins fail to properly pump blood back to the heart after the arteries have flooded your body’s tissues with oxygenated blood. It’s then up to tiny valves in the veins to close up and ensure blood flows upward to the heart and doesn’t backslide into the veins.

However, age, pregnancy, obesity, or a sedentary lifestyle can all cause those valves to weaken and blood to collect in the veins, eventually forming a varicose vein. Varicose veins can happen anywhere, but are most common on the legs.

Besides the presence of bulging veins, varicose veins cause a number of notable symptoms that may include:

  • Intense swelling in the lower leg

  • Cramping and throbbing

  • Itching around the veins

  • Persistent aching and a feeling of heaviness in the legs

  • Pain that worsens when sitting or standing for long periods

  • Discolored patches of skin near the varicose veins

Before varicose veins become visible, you may notice some early signs of the condition. These could include the appearance of light red spots on the lower legs; tired, aching legs; and swollen feet. Those signs could indicate your veins aren’t working efficiently and you’re at heightened risk of developing varicose veins at some point. If you have veins that are clearly visible but not raised on your legs, you stand a greater chance of developing varicose veins.

Varicose veins themselves don’t cause any long-term serious health problems, but symptoms may worsen without treatment. Left untreated, complications from varicose veins can develop that will require evaluation and possible medical intervention, such as:

Ulcers. Discolored spots on the skin around varicose veins could progress to open sores or ulcers. Ulcers typically form around the ankles, and could become infected without antibiotics or other measures to heal the wound.

Bleeding. Since varicose veins rest close to the skin’s surface, a slight bump or cut could cause bleeding. Even if you are able to stop the bleeding, you’ll need medical attention to prevent further blood loss.

Blood Clots. Varicose veins are a form of chronic venous insufficiency, which is the general term for a malfunction in the venous system. If your blood isn’t flowing effectively, it could clump together in the vein and cause a clot. Severe swelling or pain in one spot on the leg indicates a clot that needs to be evaluated and treated immediately. Your doctor can determine if you have a clot with an ultrasound scan.

Take Care of Your Veins

Whether varicose veins are causing significant symptoms or merely unsightly, you should always take care of your vein health. Center for Vein offers a complete spectrum of services from non-surgical methods to minimally invasive procedures that permanently rid you of varicose veins. Contact us today for an appointment.

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