The Hidden Dangers of Untreated Varicose Veins

Varicose veins occur when the veins close to the surface of your skin become enlarged and twisted. Often blue or purple in appearance, any vein can become varicose. However, the veins in your legs are the ones most commonly affected.

Varicose veins affect an estimated 40-million Americans and tend to affect more women than men. While these large, bulging veins are most often an aesthetic nuisance, it’s important to know that they’re more than a cosmetic problem.

They may signal danger with your circulatory system and, if left untreated, may put your circulatory health at risk. Here are the hidden dangers of untreated varicose veins and what you can do about it.

Circulatory problems
This means that if you don’t treat varicose veins, you risk potentially serious circulatory complications.

Deep Vein Thrombosis
When a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins, it’s known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you have varicose veins, you’re at an increased risk of forming deep vein blood clots. The danger of DVT occurs when a clot breaks off and circulates through your blood where it can damage your organs.

Pulmonary embolism, for example, is most often the result of a blood clot from the legs that travels to and lodges in the lungs, blocking a major artery. It can cause chest pain, shortness of breath, and a cough that brings up pinkish-red fluid.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Varicose veins commonly cause a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which occurs when blood pools in the veins of your legs, making it difficult for blood to circulate from your legs to your heart. The inadequate circulation often causes fluid to accumulate in the legs, a condition known as edema.

People with CVI often experience pain, cramps, and weakness in their legs. It may affect your mobility and reduce your quality of life.

Phlebitis
Varicose veins often cause a condition known as phlebitis, which is when your veins become inflamed. When it occurs in veins close to the surface, it’s called superficial thrombophlebitis (SVT), which causes severe pain in the area affected.

Risk factors
Being overweight and having a family history of varicose veins increases the risk that you’ll get them. Your risk of varicose veins also increases with age due to the wear and tear of the anatomy in your veins that are responsible for regulating blood flow

Treatment options
If caught early, compression stockings can be used to reduce accumulation of venous blood in your legs, but they don’t resolve the underlying venous disease. When compression stockings fail to improve symptoms and are ineffective, minimally invasive procedures are available for treatment. Endovenous laser therapy is a common approach that utilizes laser energy to close the affected vein. It’s done on an outpatient basis in the office and usually takes about 60 minutes.

Prevention
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to prevent varicose veins. Activities that improve blood flow, like being physically active, may reduce your risk. The important thing to know is that if you have varicose veins, you have options to treat them and prevent potentially dangerous complications.

If you’re currently suffering from varicose veins, swelling, or aching in your legs, call The Vein Specialists at 309-862-4000 to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors to discuss your treatment options and preventative measures. We have convenient locations at 3302 Gerig Drive in Bloomington or 2011 Rock Street, Suite D2 in Peru.