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Can varicose veins cause health problems?

This question was asked in Manhattan, New York and has 6 answer(s) as of 11/14/2012.
My veins, which I'm told are varicose as opposed to spider veins, are incredibly unsightly. They have been developing for the past few years and I would like to get them removed. However, I do not want to get them removed for merely cosmetic reasons. Are there actual health risks associated with varicose veins? If so, what are they?


Doctors Answers (6)

Varicose veins put you at risk for a blood clot, which can be very painful and, if clots extend, can lead to a life-threatening condition. Further, if left untreated, the underlying cause of your varicose veins puts you at risk for injury to the skin, even ulceration. Another factor: if the vein is injured, varicose veins bleed substantially. Finally, most people with varicose veins are symptomatic, but many do not realize this until the veins are fixed -patients assume that discomfort is a normal part of aging. Get the veins fixed!

Varicose veins are a lifelong medical condition and not a cosmetic nuisance. Outside of their not-so-pleasant appearance, they cause symptoms such as leg pain, heaviness, cramps, itching, burning, restless legs... If left untreated, they can progress to cause skin color discoloration (dark colors), open skin ulcers, infection of superficial veins (phlebitis) etc..

There are some very serious health risk to varicose veins. When the valves in veins do not close correctly some of the blood being pumped back to the heart falls back down the leg. This wrong way blood flow, also known as "reflux," causes an increase in pressure which pushes on the walls of the veins. This pressure results in the enlarged and tortuous vessels that we recognize as varicose veins. Aside from issues like Restless Leg Syndrome, and discomfort in the form of aching, cramping or frank pain this increased pressure can also cause the contents of the blood to be pushed out into the soft tissue around the damaged vein. If this process goes on long enough skin damage occurs and eventually ulcers can form. These ulcers tend to be very difficult to treat and commonly cause chronic infections.

If left untreated, varicose veins could cause ulcers and discoloration?on the lower legs. Other than that, there is no health risk.

If left untreated varicose veins can lead to the gradual evolution of patchy skin defects. This starts with itching, progresses to irritation (dermatitis), and turns into leg ulceration, an open would that won't heal until the veins are treated. These changes take years to evolve. However, a sudden unpredictable complication is phlebitis which can progress to deep vein thrombosis that can be life-threatening. It may not happen often, but when it does, it can be fatal.

While some cases of varicose veins are only of cosmetic concern, symptoms and complications of varicose veins are common. People with varicose veins have been found to have a lower quality of life than the general population. Common symptoms include leg fatigue, heaviness, restless legs, night cramps, and leg itching. Complications due to varicose veins can be leg swelling, phlebitis, eczema, skin discoloration, inflammation and ulceration. Pelvic varicose veins may cause pelvic congestion syndrome. Fortunately, treatment of varicose veins has a high success rate both at improving the appearance as well as the symptoms and complications they cause.

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