Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
Have you noticed bluish-purple veins bulging from your legs? Do they look like small, twisted ropes under your skin? These unwanted, enlarged veins are called varicose veins. Don’t disregard them as something that is a normal part of the aging process or strictly a cosmetic concern. On the contrary, varicose veins are your body’s warning system, alerting you to the possibility of underlying vein disease.
Varicose veins often progress into more serious complications when left untreated. Thus, tending to them from the onset will promote optimal leg health, and ultimately, a better quality of life. Dr. Paul McNeill, Dr. Garth Rosenberg and their caring staff at Capitol Vein and Laser Centers have the expertise and knowledge to diagnose, treat and manage your varicose veins to keep your legs feeling—and looking—great.
What are Varicose Veins?
To understand how varicose veins can develop into more severe health issues, it is first important to understand what causes them. Veins in the legs are responsible for pushing blood back to the heart. Inside each vein are tiny, one-way valves that work against gravity to pump blood upward. When these valves weaken or fail in a leg vein, excess blood remains in the vein. This medical condition is known as venous insufficiency.
The presence of a varicose vein usually represents worsening venous insufficiency. The pooled blood inside the leg vein creates increased stress and pressure on the vein. As a result, the vein can become enlarged and dilated, which causes it to bulge outward. This weakened, twisted, protruding vein is known as a varicose vein. Varicose veins can occur in any vein throughout the body, but they tend to develop in the lower extremities and the superficial veins near the surface of the skin. Although rare, varicose veins can develop in the deeper veins of the legs.
Six Reasons to Treat Varicose Veins Right Away
Most varicose veins cause minor discomfort, aches, itchy skin or a feeling of heaviness in the legs and can make people feel self-conscious about the appearance of their legs. However, some varicose veins can be an indication of a more serious underlying vein problem. If you notice one or more varicose veins, it is in the best interest of your health to seek an evaluation promptly. Doing so could help you avoid these painful varicose vein complications:
1. Leg Swelling
Swelling in the legs is a common problem for patients with varicose veins. The inability of a leg vein to push blood back to the heart allows blood to pool in the vein, causing increased pressure inside the diseased vein. The additional blood leads to increased pressure in the lower extremities, which causes leg swelling. Swelling can make leg muscles and skin feel extremely uncomfortable and tight, leading some patients to limit their physical activity.
2. Skin Ulcers
Open sores, or ulcers, can develop on the skin as a result of venous insufficiency and varicose veins. The pooled blood, usually in the lower legs and ankles, creates increased pressure on the tissues in the area. Also, the excess blood may seep from the varicose vein, which can irritate and damage the surrounding tissues and lead to ulcers on the surface of the skin. Skin ulcers that result from circulation problems tend to be stubborn to treat and slow to heal, and can cause significant pain, skin discoloration and skin complications. Moreover, skin ulcers can be so uncomfortable that they negatively impact a person’s quality of life.
3. Skin Infection
If a skin ulcer develops as a result of vein disease, it can progress into a stubborn skin infection. The infected area may be red, tender, swollen or feel warm to the touch. Skin infections should be evaluated by a physician, at which time the doctor may prescribe antibiotics. If left untreated, a skin infection can advance into a life-threatening emergency.
The extreme pressure within a varicose vein can cause the vein to rupture and bleed. Further, varicose veins near the surface of the skin can begin to bleed if they are bumped or if there is an injury to the leg. A bleeding varicose vein may gush, be difficult to stop, can be severe and can pose a serious health threat.
5. Superficial Thrombophlebitis
A blood clot in a vein that is located just under the surface of the skin is called superficial thrombophlebitis. Existing varicose veins place people at higher risk for developing this condition People with varicose veins are more likely to develop superficial thrombophlebitis because their veins are weakened or twisted and do not allow blood to flow properly. Superficial thrombophlebitis can cause tenderness, redness, swelling and darkening of the skin along the vein that has a blood clot. It can also cause pain in the entire limb where the blood clot is present.
6. Deep Vein Thrombosis
Although varicose veins tend to occur in veins near the surface of the skin, typically they are associated with problems in deeper veins.Sometimes the valves in a deeper vein can fail and cause ineffective circulation and blood return in that specific vein.This condition is called “venous reflux” and causes pooling of blood and sluggish circulation within the specific vein.Venous reflux within certain veins can increase your risk for developing a blood clot. A blood clot that develops in an interior vein within the body is known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). DVT is a serious condition that dramatically impedes blood flow. Further, if the blood clot breaks away and travels to another part of the body, it can create severe health problems or even be life-threatening. DVT most often occurs in the deep veins of the legs and symptoms may include redness, pain, swelling, warmth, skin discoloration, cramps or worsening leg pain when the foot is bent.
The Capitol Vein Difference
The presence of varicose veins is an indication that your veins are not functioning adequately. To avoid further complications, seek advice from a vein care specialist. Dr. Paul McNeill and Dr. Garth Rosenberg of Capitol Vein and Laser Centers both have over two decades of experience diagnosing, managing and treating varicose veins and other venous issues. They have been pioneers in researching new and less invasive treatments for vein disease. Their expertise, in combination with an experienced and compassionate staff, makes Capitol Vein the best choice for vein care across Washington D.C., Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania. If you have concerns about your varicose veins, or if you would like to schedule a consultation at one of our convenient locations, call us at 866-695-8346.