Potential Dangers of Varicose Veins

About one in four Americans has varicose veins — those large, twisted veins that appear just below the skin’s surface on the legs and feet. Varicose veins range from purplish red to blue, and they’re a source of embarrassment for many people.

Varicose veins form when valves inside your veins malfunction, causing blood to flow back the wrong way or pool inside your veins. Most of the time, varicose veins are simply a cosmetic concern and don’t pose serious risks to your health, but they can lead to more severe complications if left untreated.

Kunal Patel, MD, and our team at NJ Cardiovascular Institute are here to help — whether you’re experiencing discomfort, swelling, or you’re unhappy with the way your legs look. Our varicose vein team offers treatments to improve your legs’ appearance and reduce your risk of suffering medical complications related to varicose veins.

More than just a cosmetic issue, a few potential dangers of varicose veins include leg pain, stasis ulcers, and blood clots.

Leg pain

Varicose veins can develop anywhere in the body, but they’re most often located in the legs or feet due to increased pressure inside your veins when you stand and walk. After cosmetic concerns, the most common symptom of varicose veins is leg pain.

Pooling blood can make your legs feel heavy or achy. In more severe cases, varicose veins may cause burning, throbbing, or swelling in affected legs. Discomfort may increase when you sit or stand for long periods of time, and sometimes the skin around varicose veins becomes itchy.

Stasis ulcers

Varicose veins form when blood isn’t effectively pumped back to your heart. As a result, blood collects in the veins, stretching the walls and creating more pressure. This may cause chronic swelling around the veins, and proteins inside your blood can leak into surrounding tissues and create skin ulcers, also called stasis ulcers.

Stasis ulcers may cause skin discoloration and scaling on your lower legs. Discoloration can appear dark red or purple, because blood spreads into surrounding tissue. The ulcer itself may appear shallow but large, and usually develops around your calf or ankle. Ulcers increase your risk of developing an infection and require professional medical care.

Blood clots

Although rare, blood clots are another potential danger of varicose veins. Clots can form inside superficial veins, causing swelling and tenderness in the affected area. Blood clots in superficial veins can be painful, but they generally don’t travel to the lungs or cause other health complications.

However, it’s possible for blood clots to develop in severe varicose veins deep inside your legs. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a serious medical condition that can cause a pulmonary embolism (blood clot in the lung) and related complications. Talk to our team to find out if you’re at risk for DVT.

Finding treatment for varicose veins

Don’t hesitate to make an appointment with us at NJ Cardiovascular Institute if you’re concerned about your varicose veins. We offer vein evaluations and various treatment options for both cosmetic and health reasons.

We perform a complete evaluation, that may include ultrasound testing, to diagnose circulation problems, and then we recommend a treatment plan that fits your needs.  

Improve your health and your appearance with varicose vein care at one of our offices in Newark or Secaucus, New Jersey. Call us or book a consultation online to get started today.

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