Varicose Veins: What Are the Complications?
More Than Skin Deep
When most people think about varicose veins, they think that the problem is primarily aesthetic in nature. No doubt large, swollen veins in the legs are unsightly, and, as anyone that has them is all too aware, they’re uncomfortable and sometimes painful. But for as common as these are—about one in five American adults have them—many put off getting them treated.  And while a majority of cases pose no real threat, it’s important to note that some untreated conditions do lead to serious and even potentially life-threatening complications.
What are the dangers that can arise if varicose veins are left unchecked? Let’s take a look:
This is a state of inflammation in the veins, and it becomes a more serious condition called “thrombophlebitis,” when accompanied by blood clots.  As you can imagine, blocking off blood flow can be very damaging, and the severity of this complication depends on where it occurs. For instance, superficial phlebitis occurs in more surface veins and isn’t as serious, while occurrence elsewhere in the body can be problematic. Medical evaluation is necessary because these cases can lead to the development of more serious complications. 
Deep Vein Thrombosis
Much more dangerous, however, is deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which the clot occurs in a deeper and more important vein.  If a piece of blood clot breaks off, it can get lodged in the lungs, which leads to pulmonary embolism, a potentially fatal condition. While direct links haven’t been established between varicose veins and DVT, the two conditions are clearly related.  Patients believed to have this condition need to seek out medical treatment as soon as possible to avoid dangerous complications.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency
Resulting from disrupted circulation over a longer period of time—as occurs with varicose veins—chronic venous insufficiency is characterized by an inability of valves in veins to get blood back to the heart.  This causes a poor exchange of oxygen and nutrients to affected parts of the body, increasing the risk of other dangerous conditions.
Another result of circulation back to the heart being disrupted, this condition occurs when blood pools near the ankles due to increased pressure.  The area swells and ulcers form, making it painful and prone to further injury. Venous ulcer affects the body’s ability to heal, so small wounds or scratches can last longer and more easily become infected.
Dermatitis & Skin Problems
Varicose veins can also affect the skin, leading to two conditions: varicose eczema and lipodermatosclerosis. The former leads to red-colored, flaky, and scaly skin in certain regions, in which crust and blisters sometimes form. The latter is more serious in that skin becomes tightened and tougher, occasionally becoming discolored. It’s non-reversible and most often arises on the calf. 
In some cases of varicose veins, bleeding in the legs ends up being a big problem. This occurs due to physical contact like any other cuts or scrapes, but the problem is that the build-up of blood in the area can make for a more forceful and messy problem.  That said, this kind of bleeding can be managed with pressure and elevation, and medical attention isn’t usually required.
Getting Back on Track
Whether you opt for medical approaches or try to manage them on your own, the decision to take care of varicose veins is an important one. As laid out here, not only are these uncomfortable and unsightly, but they can be part of larger and more serious problems. That said, no one needs to take a back seat to this condition; treatments today are highly effective in getting rid of varicose veins. The first step involves committing to making that happen.
If you suffer from varicose veins, the team at Hamilton Vein Center can help. Employing the latest and best in techniques and technologies, these experts at these Texas-based outpatient clinics have helped countless people achieve relief from this condition and its complications. To learn more about what they do, call the office Houston office at (281) 565-0033, the Austin location at (512) 710-1114 or San Antonio at (210) 405-4707 today!
- Institute For Quality And Efficiency In Health Care. 2016. “Varicose Veins: Overview”. Institute For Quality And Efficiency In Health Care (Iqwig). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279247/.
- Yolanda Smith, B.Pharm. 2010. “Varicose Vein Complications”. News-Medical.Net. Accessed December 19 2018. https://www.news-medical.net/health/Varicose-Vein-Complications.aspx.
- “Phlebitis Basics”. 2018. Webmd. Accessed December 19 2018. https://www.webmd.com/dvt/phlebitis#1.