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01.29.24 CVL Varicose Veins

Why You Should Never Ignore Varicose Veins

Varicose veins and spider veins are very common, affecting about 40 percent of men and 70 percent of women by age 60. These bulging, bluish-purple veins, usually found in the legs, are so common that there should be no shame or stigma in having them. Yet because they are so common, and because their symptoms are often uncomfortable but not unbearable, many people leave them unaddressed. Some think the condition will resolve itself (it won’t), while others think it’s nothing serious (it may be). The truth of the matter is that varicose veins are a progressive medical condition that on rare occasions can lead to more serious concerns such as a blood clot or ulceration.

What can varicose veins and chronic venous reflux lead to?

● Skin Ulcers: When venous circulation is compromised due to varicose veins and venous reflux, blood pools in the leg, increasing internal pressure which causes damage to the surrounding skin. If uncorrected, venous hypertension increases over time, the skin gradually becomes more damaged, and wounds can develop. The most common medical approach is addressing the surface wound with wound care debridement, medications, and compression. However, until the underlying venous pressure is treated and eliminated, the wounds are likely to return.

● Bleeding…. A lot!: It sounds dramatic, but swollen varicose veins at the surface of the skin are prime real estate and conditions to spring a leak! Scratching itchy veins, bumping your leg on the car door, or Fido jumping up to say hello all can puncture a surface vein. Luckily varicose veins are pretty elastic so bleeding does not occur often, but in the event it does, it can be a gusher. To prevent this, keep skin moisturized and be mindful when moving about. If you do develop a bleeding varicosity, elevate the injured leg and apply pressure along with a cold compress for 20-30 minutes.

● Lipodermatosclerosis: You don’t need to pronounce it, but lipodermatosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory condition characterized by the hardening and darkening of skin on the lower legs. This condition can cause significant discomfort and often results in skin ulcerations. Healing of wounds with compromised skin such as lipodermatosclerosis is challenging and may take months of persistent care. Early intervention and management of varicose veins is an important step to avoid lipodermatosclerosis.

● Blood Clots or DVT: Another concerning complication of varicose veins is blood clots. Most clots associated with varicose veins are superficial and typically resolve on their own. We do however on occasion see a spontaneous deep vein blood clot, or DVT, stemming from the varicose veins or source saphenous vein. What specifically is the cause of the clot? Bulging veins can become inflamed due to pressure or trauma. When the vein walls are inflamed, the vein lumen (or opening) narrows and impacts blood flow in that area, sometimes resulting in a clot.

We know varicose vein complications can be scary. Fortunately, treating these veins has never been easier. Today’s treatments are done in the office in less than an hour. You can drive yourself to and from the appointment and there is no downtime. Varicose veins are considered to be a progressive medical condition, so most insurance plans cover treatments. If you have varicose veins, or if you’re experiencing discomfort in your legs, please do not hesitate to schedule an appointment at 866-695-8346. We look forward to helping you achieve healthy pain-free legs!

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