04.08.16 Dr. Garth Rosenberg Blood Clots and Flying

Learn How Varicose Veins Can Cause Dangerous Blood Clots

Varicose veins are a significant health risk to your leg as evidenced by my patient in Frederick, MD who saw me last week with sudden onset of left leg pain, redness and hard lumps. He had large varicosities in each leg for many years, and felt that the mild aching was a "normal sign of aging." His family physician had not encouraged him to seek evaluation because of a poor understanding of the long term consequences of untreated varicose veins.

leg ulcer

My patient's ultrasound examination showed very significant phlebitis (superficial blood clots) in the left lower leg and his pain was quite bothersome. His right leg, as seen below here, has large veins but no clots.

phlebitis in leg

He is now on blood thinners to reduce the chance of a worsening clotting problem and will eventually need treatment to reduce the risk of recurrent clots.

The usual cause of these large varicose veins is saphenous vein reflux, or weak valves in the veins which allows venous to blood to back-flow down the leg. This elevated pressure in the veins causes the surface veins to protrude, leading to symptoms of aching, heaviness, swelling, restless legs and potentially blood clots and skin ulcers.

The backflow in these veins with increased pressure leads to sluggish flow and a situation conducive to the development of clots. Some of these clots remain at the surface veins, but others can extend into the deep venous system, causing DVTs. These DVTs are potentially quite dangerous and may lead to sudden death. Warning signs may be leg swelling and pain, but quite a few DVT present without clear symptoms, making their discovery sometimes problematic. Venous duplex scanning is critical in determining the presence of absence of deep vein blood clots.

It is important to understand that varicose veins are a significant health risk that progresses with time as gravity continues to stress the weak veins. Support hose can help minimize the symptoms, but the underlying issue with the weak veins remains. Simple office based treatment, such as VNUS Closure or VenaSeal, is a perfect method to eliminate the varicosities and restore normal circulation to the leg. Even patients with veins considered minimally symptomatic are at risk for clots and ulcers, and early treatment can limit these complications.

  • email-icon
  • facebook-icon
  • twitter-icon