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How can I convince someone to see a doctor for varicose veins?

My sister appears to be developing symptoms of varicose veins and I am worried. However, she's stubborn about the condition and won't listen to me when I suggest that she see a doctor. What do you think I can tell her to convince her to see a doctor? What are the effects of going untreated?

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Doctors Answers (6)

You can tell her that these veins if untreated could lead to ulcers that may not heal on her legs. These veins can also be causing her pain, swelling, itching, restless legs, burning or general leg fatigue.

The decision to treat any medical condition is a personal choice that depends on how much it is bothering that person. I don't think you should try to convince your sister she should be treated now but providing information on how varicose veins are treated and the expected cost might be appreciated. Varicose veins in the legs tends to be progressive with gradual increases in size and number of veins over time. She may or may not develop significant symptoms of venous insufficiency including sore aching legs, phlebitis with areas of tender veins, and skin changes over the lower leg shin region. There is no great urgency to get treated if she is uncomfortable and may only be interested in gathering information for a decision further down the road.

Depending on how advanced the problem is, you might suggest going to Google images and look at pictures of "venous stasis" or "venous ulcers." That usually is sufficient.

Varicose vein disease is progressive and can lead to significant health issues, like swelling, leg ulcers. Blood clots, numbness, cramping or "Charlie Horse". If she starts wearing knee high graded compression of 20-30 Grade, she should notice a big difference in the way her legs feel. That may be all the convincing that she needs. She should get a complete venous ultrasound mapping of her veins, which in most cases is covered by insurance.

It's a difficult situation when you are concerned for someone close to you but she also has to be comfortable with doing something. In our clinic we offer "free screening days" when people can come and get an idea of what is going on with their legs. Most people with varicose veins grow into the condition gradually and do not realize the impact on their lives. They can be more fatigued because of the heaviness/pain in their legs. There are also increased risks of developing clots in the varicose veins which are painful and can also extend to the deep veins in some cases. If she has underlying problems such as venous insufficiency, this is a chronic condition and can continue to progress. I recommend her seeing an experienced vascular surgeon who specializes in varicose vein treatments. She will be examined with an ultrasound and they will be able to tell her why she has this problem (apart from hereditary) and what treatment options are available. These are all minimally invasive with little down time and mostly covered by insurance.

Usually it is no rush. If she has aching, pain and swelling, she can wear compression hose elevate her legs and see a doctor when they bother her. It is more pressing to see a doctor if she has an open sore or ulcer or phlebitis.

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