An estimated 20 million adults in the US live with varicose veins and/or spider veins. Although the condition is very common, it often remains undiagnosed and untreated in a lot of people. It’s time you took action if you are among them. Painful and unsightly varicose veins can pose health risks over time if ignored.
These diseased veins develop slowly and silently so a large number of affected people don’t experience any symptoms, even though their veins might be damaged in a specific area of the body. Varicose veins affect the surrounding tissues and cells as well. It’s best to choose a trusted treatment provider and seek timely varicose vein treatments in order to avoid long-term discomfort or complications.
Common Health Hazards of Ignoring Varicose Veins
Varicose veins may pose considerable health risks if left untreated for a long time. They could leave you in pain, cause aesthetic concerns, and in rare cases, may result in complications or even require hospitalization. Here are a few known risks of untreated varicose veins:
Poor Blood Circulation
Varicose veins are commonly seen on the lower extremities. It causes the veins to swell and prevents the flow of blood to the heart. Occasionally, it can affect other parts of the body as well. While most people consider varicose veins to be a cosmetic blemish that causes the veins to stick out – it has underlying consequences. Varicose veins indicate that the affected veins are essentially having trouble circulating blood in the body. It might be why your legs and feet sometimes feel numb and continue to bother you.
These symptoms are not something you should ignore. Varicose veins can adversely impact your quality of life. Proper blood circulation is required to feel energetic throughout the day. You won’t be able to comfortably perform daily activities if your legs ache and throb all the time. Laser vein treatments and sclerotherapy injectable procedures are helpful in removing severely damaged veins and fixing the ones that are salvageable, which can go a long way in improving blood circulation.
Varicose veins can sometimes result in hyperpigmentation or irregular pigmentation in the affected sites. The skin near the untreated vein will become darker and feel waxy. Untreated varicose veins affect surrounding cells and tissues, creating an unsightly skin appearance that only gets worse over time if left untreated. Additionally, the slightest bump will damage the skin around a varicose vein. Significant bruising is often seen in patients with this condition.
While this is not a serious health risk in most cases, the symptoms can cause many to feel conscious about their skin. You may suffer from dermatitis in part because of varicose veins. This can easily lead to infection if the condition is not taken care of in time. The skin can suffer significant changes over time because of prolonged swelling. Swollen tissues restrict the flow of nutrients and oxygen necessary for normal healing process. Surrounding skin may not be able to heal from minor injuries.
One of the frequent complaints of patients suffering from varicose veins is the uncontrollable need to itch. In many cases, varicose veins are not apparent on the surface. Patients routinely mistake the condition for dry skin. You may want to itch your calf muscles repeatedly. Many patients break open their skin when they are not aware of their varicose veins condition or knowingly keep ignoring it.
Itching is one of the mildest symptoms of varicose veins. You may be able to treat this with over-the-counter skin ointments and salves. But it is prudent to seek the opinion of a specialist to ensure there are no serious issues occurring beneath the skin.
One of the key reasons why varicose veins are considered a dangerous condition is that they can silently cause far greater problems than what meets the eye. They aren’t tiny, harmless veins as they may appear on the surface. Instead, they are a symptom of damaged blood vessel valves within the walls of the vein. Blood begins to collect causing the veins to swell and become noticeable. The enlarged part is where the blood becomes stagnant.
The pressure within your vein will build up causing swelling in the surrounding tissues of the body. Your skin will get tighter and the legs will become more painful if the condition is left untreated. Swelling makes the skin more impressionable, leading to other problems. In severe cases, the skin may begin leaking and oozing fluid from the affected areas. The skin may also become hard and discolored, which is something you should not ignore.
While it is recommended that you visit a varicose vein specialist, there are certain at-home veins treatment options that can help reduce swelling. For instance, you can wear compression stockings or raise your legs by keeping them elevated on a pillow. You may suffer from cramps, restlessness, and even burning sensations because of the inflammation within your vein walls.
Pain and Cramping
Another real risk of not seeking varicose vein treatments is the persistent pain and cramping that may occur over time. There is an increased risk of blood traveling through damaged blood vessels and you may experience varicose vein pain. You experience uncomfortable legs, swollen feet, or a burning sensation. You may not be able to rest your legs even when sitting or lying down due to reduced blood flow.
Varicose veins can cause all these problems and more. There may be a general decline in your overall physical health as well as mental or emotional well-being if vein-related complications persist for a long time. Oxygen that is carried by the blood to all body areas won’t reach the intended parts since varicose veins affect blood circulation. Lack of oxygen can cause painful muscle cramps at the site of the affected veins. In severe cases, these cramps can be debilitating and usually affect mobility.
Bleeding in the Affected Sites
Varicose veins are swollen in parts due to blood clots making the blood stagnant. Enlarged veins are usually more prone to cuts, bruises, and injuries because they’re present right under the skin’s surface. You may bleed more from injuries where normally there should only be a little blood. There can be distinct bruising from varicose and spider veins even where the skin is not broken. In case the injury or trauma is more significant, it may take longer for the skin to heal and the bleeding to become normal.
Even minimal trauma can cause the affected vein to burst and start bleeding. You won’t need to get injured severely. The simplest brush against the corner or edge of a piece of furniture could sometimes cause you to break out in dark purple bruises or make you bleed. In severely affected veins, scrubbing too hard with a loofah while in the shower may result in a blood clot bursting.
It doesn’t matter how the varicose veins develop or what might be the underlying cause of their occurrence in your case. If you don’t get treated for your existing varicose veins condition, you could potentially suffer blood loss, which was entirely avoidable. Sometimes the patient may have to rush to the nearest emergency room to stop the bleeding. This can be a dangerous, emotionally traumatizing, physically debilitating, and financially expensive situation. It makes sense, from any angle, to seek professional varicose veins therapy to minimize or eliminate these risks and complications.
Ulcers are one of the known varicose vein symptoms. In fact, medical professionals often determine the severity of varicose veins based on the formation of ulcers. Venous ulcers are normally characterized by a break in the skin. Any abrasion leaves you exposed to infections from deadly contaminants and pathogens. Skin ulcers, according to vein treatment experts, are the result of long-term fluid buildup in the surrounding tissues.
They may be formed because of the increased pressure of blood when the veins stop working properly. The ulcers when combined with skin infection and venous disorders can be considerably painful and slow-healing. These health conditions could even develop by simply scratching the skin where varicose veins occur.
Leg ulcers are not something you should ignore. They are more than a cosmetic concern. They can easily get infected and result in more serious complications. You need to stop varicose veins from developing further if you want to treat the ulcer and resulting leg pain. An ulcer is not likely to heal if the vein goes untreated. In certain cases, you may experience multiple ulcers.
Often, the patient may also require treatment from a wound care specialist. You can avoid such consequences by seeking treatment for the damaged vein. Traditional vein stripping is no longer recommended as a primary medical treatment for varicose veins because it is highly invasive and may involve significant complications. An experienced and committed vascular specialist will consider sclerotherapy and endovenous laser treatment options among others as primary methods used to treat varicose veins.
Risk of SVT and DVT
Venous blood needs to constantly flow through the body in order to prevent blood clots. The risk of clotting is enhanced when blood flow slows down. Clotting is your body’s natural response to limit blood loss following an injury. However, varicose veins cause the pooling of venous blood, which leads to superficial vein thrombosis (SVT).
Superficial thrombophlebitis occurs because of decreased blood flow, blood clotting, and vein damage in the varicose vein. Inflammation occurs right under the skin surface, causing red and tender masses. Blood clots that occur in the deep veins are called deep vein thrombosis (DVT). While these blood clots are generally asymptomatic, they can cause swelling, pain, and difficulty in walking.
In addition, blood clots can break free and reach lungs after traveling through the bloodstream. A blood clot in the lung might result in a pulmonary embolism (PE), which is a life-threatening condition. Every 1 in 5 deaths in the United States is due to PE. These are deaths that can be prevented through timely vein care.
The appearance of veins can be your warning for bigger, more serious issues. This is why it is necessary that you have your varicose veins checked out by a physician. Lipodermatosclerosis is an inflammation of subcutaneous fat, found right underneath the skin. Lipodermatosclerosis and lymphedema are different conditions.
Other symptoms of lipodermatosclerosis include uneven skin pigmentation, skin hardening, swelling, and redness. In some patients, the condition can also be painful. In most cases, lipodermatosclerosis occurs in patients with varicose veins or those that are obese. Patients suffering from the disease suffer change in skin color, tapering of legs right above the ankles, and pain.
Ulcers and open sores on the skin are an invitation for infections. Any cut, scrape, or open wound on the skin is susceptible to infection. Harmful bacteria can easily get into the open areas and damage internal systems. Redness and hotness in the affected area is a common warning sign of infection. You will need medication to treat an infection.
It’s recommended that you have your condition treated as soon as possible if you suspect it to be due to varicose veins. There are several dangerous consequences of getting infected frequently. Your body won’t be able to respond to antibiotics if it is too far advanced.
Do Varicose Veins Worsen with Age?
There are about 100,000 miles of blood vessels in the average person’s body. The composition of veins and arteries vary to match their unique tasks. Veins have flexible walls and are fitted with valves to ensure the blood can only flow in the direction of the heart. Over time, vein walls suffer the same predicament as your skin. After all, they are also composed of elastin and collagen – the same proteins responsible for giving the skin its supple smooth resilience.
Loss of flex in the vein walls can contribute to high blood pressure. With time, the valves tend to thicken, which results in various vein conditions. The impact of the change is yet to be fully understood by experts. Aging veins result in varicose veins as blood pressure changes. Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, except they are tinier.
Varicose veins can be traced back to the failure of venous valves, which causes blood to pool within the vessels situated behind the failed valve. Vein valves lose their elasticity with age and expand with the pressure of excess blood. This often creates discolored blood vessels, which are visible through the skin.
Risk Factors for Varicose Veins
There are several factors, such as heredity, obesity, and pregnancy which might contribute to the development of varicose veins. Here are a few factors that could increase your risk of developing varicose veins condition:
- Genetics: On average, you are 50% more at risk of developing this vascular condition if you have a family history of varicose veins.
- Obesity: Pressure is placed on the veins when you carry excess weight. This causes some of the veins to weaken (particularly in the legs), raising the risk of developing varicose veins.
- Prolonged sitting or standing: There is an increase in the pressure within your leg veins when you stay in the same position for too long. Blood is not able to flow properly when you are not moving around. This pressure can cause the valves within the veins to weaken over time, resulting in the formation of varicose veins.
- Age: Blood vessel valves that control blood flow become naturally weak with age. This is another factor in the development of varicose and spider veins.
- Damaged veins: The risk of developing varicose veins is heightened when the veins get damaged from injury or due to some other condition.
Recognize Early Symptoms of Varicose Veins
There are several early symptoms that can give you an indication of the formation of varicose veins. You can take steps to prevent new varicose veins from developing and seek timely treatment to avoid complications. These are a few early signs to look out for:
- Swollen feet: You may be at a risk of developing varicose veins if your ankles and feet swell by the end of the day. If this occurs on a regular basis, you may have to worry.
- Painful legs: Your legs shouldn’t ache after physical activity, such as walking. People with frequent cramping and pain in the legs are more likely to develop varicose veins.
- Pigmentation: Red spots on lower extremities indicate a problem with your blood flow. This can be an early sign that the blood vessels within your vein may have weakened and burst.
- Shiny legs: The skin gets stretched to breaking point when the veins are unable to contribute to proper blood circulation. You may notice an unnatural pigmentation or shine to your legs. You may also notice the skin seeming to peel or itch.
Get Your Varicose Veins Treated Today
Varicose veins can cause physical and cosmetic challenges. Fortunately, there are advanced, minimally invasive treatment options that can help prevent, treat, or manage this condition. The vein treatment experts at Mark Medical Care can help if you or a loved one is suffering from varicose veins or related vascular complications, such as ulcers, rashes, or swelling in the legs. All it takes is a physical exam followed by an ultrasound test to determine whether you have varicose veins or not.
Don’t wait to get your varicose veins treated. The condition could get worse and become more unmanageable if ignored. You can live a happier and healthier life with fewer complications when you seek timely varicose veins treatment.
Dr. Mark and his team have years of experience in successfully treating varicose veins, spider veins, and other vascular conditions using safe, proven and effective in-office treatments. Our entire team is fluent in Spanish so that we can reach a broader community and communicate with our patients in a way they are most comfortable. Schedule an appointment today by calling us at 833-483-4637 or filling out this online contact form.