Varicose veins are unsightly and painful, but when left untreated they can lead to more serious complications — here’s what you need to know.
Varicose veins are one of the most common diseases in the United States, afflicting more than half of the American population over the age of 50. It most often affects the veins of the legs and feet, leaving them twisted and swollen. While many patients are understandably concerned by their appearance, varicose veins can lead to more serious complications when left untreated. Below, we’ve outlined a few of these complications, as well as some of the leading treatment options available today.
Since varicose veins are usually inflamed, they often press up against the skin, leaving them more susceptible to cuts. As a result, patients suffering from varicose veins can often bleed extensively from relatively minor injuries. Unfortunately, this heightened risk remains until the swelling subsides.
Untreated varicose veins could also result in venous ulcers, which are open sores caused by poor circulation. The most common symptoms of venous ulcers include extreme pain, inflammation, a sense of heaviness in the affected limb, and significant discoloration of the surrounding skin. If left untreated, venous ulcers can emit an unpleasant odor and generate pus, causing patients great distress and discomfort.
Perhaps the greatest danger posed by untreated varicose veins is an increased risk of developing blood clots. Chronic inflammation can damage the valves that control blood flow through your veins, preventing them from pumping it properly. As a result, blood begins to accumulate in the veins, obstructing circulation and promoting clotting. Should a clot detach and enter the bloodstream, it can lead to life-threatening conditions such as thrombophlebitis or deep vein thrombosis.
Although varicose veins can lead to a number of more serious complications, the good news is they’re easily treatable. However, it’s important to seek treatment immediately in order to minimize the associated risks. If you’re struggling with varicose veins or another form of chronic venous insufficiency, contact a vein specialist today and schedule an appointment.