Varicose Veins and Leg Amputation
You may consider your varicose veins only a minor cosmetic issue, but they’re not. Delaying treatment could lead to serious complications.
When most people think of varicose veins, they think of the raised purple and blue veins that line the legs or feet. But varicose vein-related health concerns are more than skin-deep. Rather, these veins can be an indication of a serious underlying vascular problem known as chronic venous insufficiency or venous reflux.
Chronic venous insufficiency means your veins aren’t working properly. Instead of pushing blood back to the heart after it’s circulated to the extremities, tiny valves in the vein become weak and allow blood to pool within the vein walls. The prolonged pressure of this excess blood collecting in the vein causes the vein to bulge out from under the skin as a varicose vein. Varicose veins can lead to more severe medical complications if you ignore the symptoms and don’t see a vein specialist.
Could Varicose Veins to Leg Amputation?
Leg amputation due to varicose veins is extremely rare. Generally, the uncomfortable symptoms of varicose veins — pain, swelling, cramping, throbbing, and itching — persuade people to seek treatment far before their health progresses to that point. However, if not treated at an early stage, varicose veins could advance to a serious medical problem — most notably, discolored skin, heavy bleeding, and open sores that don’t heal.
Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to our tissues as it circulates throughout the body. But when oxygen and nutrients are blocked from reaching skin tissue due to the swelling of varicose veins, venous ulcers form. These open wounds typically develop near the ankle on the inside of the leg. Without medical intervention, venous ulcers may become infected or the tissue around them may gradually die, leading to gangrene. Severe cases of gangrene may necessitate an amputation.
If chronic venous insufficiency progresses to venous ulcers, patients are typically treated with special bandages and dressings that boost circulation and prevent infection. Compression stockings can be worn over these bandages to add another layer of protection and further promote blood flow.
In fact, the first line of treatment for asymptomatic or slightly uncomfortable varicose veins is compression therapy. Made of tightly woven stretchy material, compression stockings apply gentle but constant pressure to the veins, moving blood up to the chest. Compression stockings, combined with exercises such as walking and biking, improve muscle strength in the calves, which in turn helps the veins pump blood.
Treatments for Varicose Veins
Minimally invasive surgical procedures that use either laser heat or a safe solution to collapse the clogged vein have proven effective in eliminating varicose veins, as well. Such procedures are done in an office setting, require little to no anesthesia, and allow patients to return to their normal activities within hours.
Although leg amputation due to varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency is very unlikely, it’s important for varicose vein patients to be aware that the condition arises from a significant vascular disorder. And like many medical disorders, delaying treatment can result in serious complications, including bleeding and sores. So even if your varicose veins are asymptomatic or only mildly uncomfortable, you need to consult with a vein specialist to understand your treatment options as soon as the enlarged veins appear. Fortunately, with today’s therapies, varicose veins don’t have to lead to negative health consequences.
We’re Here to Help
The doctors and staff at the Centers for Vein Restoration across the country specialize in treating varicose veins and other vascular diseases. We offer a full range of treatments from compression therapy to outpatient surgeries. Contact us today to learn more.