Varicose veins appear as the gnarly, dark purple and blue veins that puff and twist around your legs. They can make you feel self-conscious, especially if you’re wearing a swimsuit, shorts, or a mini.
Boosting confidence in your appearance is a good reason to get these veins treated, but it’s not the only reason you should consider a consultation with the specialists at Vein, Heart, and Vascular Institute in Tampa and Wesley Chapel, Florida. Varicose veins can be painful, make your legs ache or feel tired and sometimes, they become itchy. Untreated varicose veins can cause serious complications.
No one wants to drag through the day with uncomfortable legs or put themselves at risk of health problems, so our patients are thrilled to learn that varicose veins are easily treated without surgery.
What causes some people to have varicose veins
If your parents had varicosity in their legs, chances are you will too. Varicose veins have a genetic link. They form when you have irregularities in the valves that push blood through your legs.
The veins in your legs have one-way valves that move blood up your legs so it can get back to your heart. These valves open to let blood go up and then close to stop it from flowing back down. If a valve becomes weak, blood builds up in the vein.
When blood pools in the vein and doesn’t make it back to your heart, it causes venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency leads to varicose veins, which causes more progressive vein problems.
As blood accumulates in these faulty veins, the walls stretch. This affects the next healthy valve on the vein, causing it undue stress and damage – causing more blood to pool.
In addition to developing a large network of tortuous varicose veins, these changes lead to potentially serious complications.
Potential health complications of varicose veins
Varicose veins and venous insufficiency slow down blood flow and cause high pressure in your veins. Over time, these two changes can cause serious issues that compromise your health.
Superficial thrombophlebitis occurs when slow blood flow damages the vein and leads to blood clotting and vein inflammation. You may experience symptoms such as skin redness, localized tenderness, and swelling just above the affected vein. This condition isn’t so dangerous but is usually a sign that more serious vein issues are present.
Varicose veins can also lead to spontaneous bleeding. Untreated varicose veins are weak and have lots of pressure put upon them from the pooled up blood, so even slight bruising can cause the skin to break and cause bleeding. In some cases, the bleeding can be extensive and difficult to stop, so you need immediate medical attention.
Another complication of varicose veins is a condition called stasis dermatitis. High venous pressure damages small capillaries and forces fluids out of the veins in your lower legs. As fluid infiltrates the surrounding tissues, you develop an inflammatory skin disease that resembles eczema and causes red skin, itching, and scaling. Stasis dermatitis is uncomfortable and unsightly. Your skin in the areas of the irritation can become discolored and remain long after episodes of stasis dermatitis have healed.
The longer your varicose veins go untreated, the more likely it is you’ll develop a venous stasis ulcer. Your skin starts to break down around the area of the diseased vein, especially around your ankle bone. These ulcers are extremely difficult to heal and can persist for months, putting you at risk of infection. Even when they do heal, they tend to recur.
You may also develop a skin condition known as lipodermatosclerosis as a result of venous insufficiency. It’s characterized by thickened and discolored skin, pain, itching, and inflammation that affects your entire lower leg and foot.
Deep vein thrombosis is another real threat. When you have varicose veins, it’s possible to develop a DVT, or blood clot, in one of your deep leg veins. If this clot breaks free and travels to your lungs, causing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.
To learn how we can treat varicose veins in the least invasive way possible, call Vein, Heart and Vascular Institute or book your consultation online.