When Varicose Veins Aren't in the Legs
Varicose veins can develop anywhere on your body, not just the legs.
Despite common misconceptions, varicose veins don’t exclusively appear on the legs. Although the lower limbs are the most common place for varicose veins to emerge, they can also strike other parts of the body, causing discomfort and swelling. What’s more, many of the same conditions that cause varicose veins in the legs can result in those same veins popping up elsewhere in the body — so it’s not uncommon to develop varicose veins both in the legs and in another body part.
If a vein anywhere in the body becomes enlarged due to poor blood flow, you’ll experience the pain, itching, and cramping that accompanies varicose veins on the legs. Here are the body parts — besides the legs — where varicose veins may develop and require treatment.
Varicose Veins That Aren’t on Your Legs
Painful, swollen varicose veins aren’t confined to only the legs and the feet. These four areas of your body are also susceptible to varicose veins, though to a lesser degree than your legs.
Rectum. Hemorrhoids are veins that have become extended and inflamed within the rectum, causing soreness or even bleeding. Persistent constipation or diarrhea, pregnancy, or lifting heavy objects can strain the rectal veins; eventually, this pressure causes hemorrhoids. Older people are also more likely to suffer hemorrhoids, which can be treated with at-home remedies like topical creams or cold compresses, or with surgery, such as sclerotherapy. Commonly used to treat varicose veins in the legs, sclerotherapy eliminates the hemorrhoids with an injection of a safe solution that collapses the vein.
Stomach and Esophagus. When varicose veins develop in the stomach or esophagus, it’s usually due to liver damage brought on by excessive alcohol consumption or hepatitis. Damage to the liver blocks blood flow in the portal vein, the main circulatory pathway between the intestines and the liver. When varicose veins in the stomach or esophagus burst and bleed, it can be life-threatening. Symptoms of varicose veins in the intestinal tract include black stools, lightheadedness, and bloody vomit. If you experience any of those symptoms, check with your doctor immediately. Treatments range from medication to reduce blood pressure in the portal vein to endoscopic band ligation, a procedure that ties off the vein with an elastic cord.
Genitals. Both men and women can develop varicose veins in the genital area. In men, varicose veins encircling the scrotum are called varicoceles. Varicoceles rarely cause symptoms, but in some cases may lead to infertility. If the condition diminishes sperm count, varicoceles can be treated by sealing off the affected vein in a varicoceles repair procedure. Genital varicose veins in women develop on the vulva. During pregnancy, a surge in blood flow to the pelvis overwhelms the veins and causes vulvar varicosities. Although vulvar varicosities disappear soon after delivery, pregnant women can alleviate the pain and swelling of the distended veins by applying cold compresses to the vulva, wearing supportive garments, and elevating their legs.
Hands and Arms. You’re less likely to develop protruding veins on your hands and arms because the valves aren’t forced to push against the same force of gravity as those in your legs. Nevertheless, varicose veins on your arm may sprout up if the valves in those veins cannot pump blood back to the heart. Treatment for varicose veins on the upper limbs are similar to those for leg varicose veins. Leading treatments include sclerotherapy or phlebectomy, a procedure during which the affected veins are removed through a small incision.
We Specialize in Varicose Veins Therapy
At the Center for Vein Restoration, we offer our clients several varicose vein treatment options, from sclerotherapy and phlebectomy to laser and radiofrequency ablation. Each is performed in our office and requires minimal anesthesia, allowing for a quick recovery time. Though we exclusively treat leg veins, our physicians would be happy to refer you to another specialist who can treat your other varicose veins. During the coronavirus pandemic, we are available for telemedicine consultations and emergency procedures.