You may decide to get rid of bulging, twisted varicose veins on your legs because you’re tired of being embarrassed to wear shorts. Or maybe you suffer from leg pain, swelling, or tired legs as a result of varicose veins.
They’re both good reasons to seek treatment that eliminates the unsightly and troublesome veins, but there’s another one to consider: Varicose veins are signs of an underlying disease that can lead to complications like non-healing leg ulcers.
As an expert in vascular medicine, Kishore K. Arcot, MD, FACC, FSCAI, FSVM, RPVI, at Memphis Vein Center has treated many patients for leg problems that could have been prevented by eliminating their varicose veins.
Here’s everything you need to know about the health conditions associated with varicose veins.
The engorged veins bulge above and stretch your skin. The veins also have weak walls, and inside the vein there’s unusually high pressure. If you break the skin over varicose veins, they can easily bleed. And they can cause extensive bleeding requiring emergency care.
Any minor trauma can lead to bleeding. For example, you may bump your leg against the edge of a table, a dog may place its paws on your leg, or you could nick the veins while shaving your legs.
Varicose veins are caused by chronic venous insufficiency. Treating varicose veins also eliminates venous insufficiency. But the longer the condition exists, the more likely you are to develop problems.
Venous insufficiency begins when valves that control blood flow in the vein stop working. This lets blood accumulate inside the vein and the result is a varicose vein.
Chronic venous insufficiency also affects blood flow and increases blood pressure in the veins in your lower leg. As a result, you’re at risk of developing:
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) is a blood clot in a vein in the center of your leg. One of the top causes of a blood clot is slow moving blood, a problem caused by venous insufficiency.
DVT poses a significant threat to your health if it breaks free and gets stuck inside your lungs. This is a potentially deadly condition called a pulmonary embolism.
Chronic venous insufficiency causes three skin conditions that are closely associated. These conditions may develop around the same time, or one may appear first, giving you a warning of what’s to come.
Hyperpigmentation, a reddish-brown discoloration in your skin, may appear before a skin rash (stasis dermatitis) or develop during the skin rash. The deep color develops when iron-containing cells in your blood break down and get into your skin.
High venous pressure may lead to blood pooling in your lower leg. As fluids leak out of the veins, they cause an inflammatory skin condition called stasis dermatitis. You develop red, dry, itchy, scaly skin resembling eczema. Stasis dermatitis can suddenly break open and turn into a non-healing leg ulcer.
Lipodermatosclerosis develops when the fat layer under your skin becomes inflamed. As a result, your skin turns red, thickens, and hardens. You may also have swelling in the lower leg that narrows above the ankle. Lipodermatosclerosis can be very painful.
Of all the complications related to venous insufficiency, leg ulcers are the most dangerous. These ulcers develop as high venous pressure pushes fluids out of the lower leg veins.
Stasis dermatitis may develop first, but an ulcer can appear without dermatitis as fluids infiltrate your skin and break down the tissues.
As your skin breaks down, a shallow, painless wound develops. This is a venous stasis ulcer.
Don’t let the lack of pain fool you, because these ulcers are a threat to your health. After an ulcer appears, it doesn’t heal on its own. Instead, it keeps enlarging and leads to dangerous skin and bone infections.
If you have signs of any of the conditions listed here, don’t wait to seek an evaluation. We use several advanced and highly effective treatments to permanently eliminate varicose veins and the underlying venous insufficiency. We also offer wound care and treat the skin conditions associated with varicose veins.
To learn more or schedule an appointment, call us at Memphis Vein Center or request an appointment online today.