Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Your Varicose Veins

Though varicose veins can be unsightly and often very painful, there are more serious reasons why you shouldn’t ignore them.

Do you have varicose veins? Found primarily on the legs, varicose veins are large, bulging, twisted veins that you can see just below the skin. In addition to their ugly appearance, they can be very painful and cause symptoms like:

  • Burning, throbbing or cramping in the legs
  • Tired, achy or heavy feelings in the legs
  • Itchy feelings around the veins

Varicose veins occur as a result of damaged one-way valves within the veins. These valves are responsible for pushing the blood through the vein in one direction back up to the heart. When these valves become damaged or weakened, blood backs up or pools in the vein, creating visibly large, lumpy, bulging veins.

If you haven’t thought about getting your varicose veins checked, you should consider it. Varicose veins can sometimes be an indicator of a more serious underlying condition and if gone untreated, will lead to some serious complications. These can include:

Blood clots

Varicose veins can be a potential cause of blood clots, a complication that can cause pain and swelling. Depending on where it is located, a blood clot can be serious. There are two main types of blood clot conditions:

  • Deep vein thrombosis – Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT, is a serious condition where a blood clot forms in a deep vein within the body. This can cause feelings of pulling, warmth, redness, swelling and pain in the calf. If this clot breaks free and travels to your lungs (known as a pulmonary embolism), it can be fatal.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitisSuperficial thrombophlebitis occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein that is just below the skin. Though not as serious as DVT, signs include redness, firmness, tenderness and sometimes pain and swelling.

Ulcers and bleeding

Sometimes, very painful venous ulcers (open sores) may form on the skin as a result of varicose veins, particularly near the ankles. Ulcers are caused by long-term fluid buildup in these tissues, caused by increased pressure of blood within the affected veins. A discolored spot on the skin is usually a precursor to a venous ulcer.

Unfortunately, some are more susceptible to developing varicose veins than others. Some risk factors include:

  • Age The risk of developing varicose veins increases as you age. People over 60 are often more susceptible.
  • Obesity Excessive weight can add more pressure to the veins.
  • Pregnancy Some pregnant women develop varicose veins as a result of increased blood volume, but decreased blood flow from the legs to the pelvis.
  • Gender Females are more susceptible to varicose veins than men.
  • Prolonged sitting or standing – Sitting or standing for long periods of time can inhibit blood flow.

If you are concerned about complications from varicose veins, call the vein specialists at Total Vein Care at (225) 245-3540 to schedule your appointment today.

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