Bleeding Varicose Veins Easily Treated
I had an interesting referral this week from Winchester, Virginia. A teacher was showering and became quite alarmed because the blood was "spurting out" from one of her small varicose veins. It was difficult for her to stop it, though with leg elevation and pressure, it finally ceased bleeding after 10 minutes. While bleeding from varicose or spider veins is not a common problem, I do see it periodically, more in the winter when the skin is scaly and dry.
Varicose veins generally occur because of elevated pressure caused by reflux in the saphenous vein. The saphenous vein extends from the groin to the ankle and propels blood up the leg with the help of one-way valves that prevent backflow. If the valves stop functioning due to heredity, injury and multiple pregnancies blood flows backward, causing the skin veins to bulge. This bulging reflects elevated pressure in the vein and can lead to bleeding.
Venous reflux can lead to a drying of the lower leg skin. Itching and swelling can occur as well. When compounded by the dry winter air, veins are more easily ruptured. One way to help minimize this is to apply a skin lotion on the lower legs and ankles daily. Compression hose also minimize the vein bulging and help drive the blood up the leg instead of allowing it to pool toward the calf and ankle.
A venous duplex ultrasound is essential in diagnosing the cause of varicose vein bleeding, as we can determine the cause of the elevated pressure in the veins. Treatment is based on the duplex results and the Venefit Procedure is an ideal method to treat saphenous vein reflux. Varithena, a new technique, was recently approved by the FDA for this purpose.
If you note bleeding from your spider or varicose vein, elevate the leg and apply firm pressure to the site for five to ten minutes. It is highly likely that the bleeding will stop. Evaluation with your fellowship trained vascular surgeon will ensure you receive the best long-term care possible. Both Dr. McNeill and Dr. Rosenberg are diplomates of the American Board of Phlebology and serve on national panels teaching advanced venous techniques to other physicians learning about venous disease.