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Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?

Varicose veins are one of the most common vascular problems in the United States. These bulging, twisted veins appear under the surface of the skin. Varicose veins can be purple, blue, or red in color, and they often appear on the feet and legs.

More than one in five American adults has varicose veins, and they're often a source of embarrassment. You might avoid wearing shorts or sandals, but are varicose veins more than a cosmetic concern? They can be.

Farhad Aduli, MD, FACC, and our team at Louisiana Heart and Vascular in Covington, Louisiana, specialize in diagnosing and treating varicose veins. Varicose veins aren’t always just a cosmetic issue. They can cause a number of complications, including leg pain, itching, ulcers, and even blood clots.

What are varicose veins?

Your veins transport blood from your body to your heart. Valves inside your veins help keep your blood flowing in the right direction. However, if a valve stops working correctly, blood can begin to pool in the vein. The result is a varicose vein.

And while varicose veins can be cosmetically unpleasing, they can also cause health issues, including leg pain, stasis ulcers, and blood clots.

Complications of varicose veins

Varicose veins can cause a number of symptoms, including the following:

Leg pain

Varicose veins can develop almost anywhere in the body, but they’re most commonly found in the legs and feet. That’s because the blood in your legs has to fight gravity to travel back to your heart, and your veins are under extra pressure when you stand and walk.

Leg pain is one of the most common symptoms of varicose veins. You might notice an aching, heavy sensation in your legs, especially after sitting or standing for long periods of time. In more severe cases, you might experience burning, throbbing, or swelling in your legs.

Stasis ulcers

A varicose vein forms when blood collects within a vein. As blood pools, the pressure inside the vein increases and stretches the walls. This pressure can cause chronic swelling around the affected vein, and proteins from your blood may leak into nearby tissue and create stasis ulcers.

Stasis ulcers are a type of skin ulcer. They may cause skin discoloration and scaling on your lower legs, where the varicose veins are found. Blood may spread into the surrounding tissue, creating patches of dark red or purplish skin.

These ulcers can be large, but shallow, and they typically develop around the calf or ankle. Having an ulcer increases your risk of developing an infection, and ulcers always require medical attention to prevent complications.

Blood clots

Blood clots are a rare but serious potential complication of varicose veins. Some people experience blood clots in superficial varicose veins — which are veins that are just below the skin’s surface — and they can cause pain and swelling. Superficial clots are often tender, but they usually don’t travel to the heart or lungs.

Blood clots can cause more severe health complications if they develop inside deep varicose veins. This condition is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and blood clots that form here can travel to other parts of the body, including the lungs.

Treating varicose veins

Whether you’ve noticed symptoms, such as leg pain and swelling, or you’re simply bothered by the look of your varicose veins, our team can help. Dr. Aduli and our team are experts in diagnosing and treating varicose veins.

We start with comprehensive diagnostic testing and venous evaluation. Then we discuss treatment options. The most common treatment for varicose veins is sclerotherapy. This treatment involves injecting a solution into the vein, which seals it off.

The blood then reroutes to nearby veins, and, over time, the vein collapses and the body absorbs it and eliminates it as waste. This treatment is safe and effective for both cosmetic and health concerns.

To get expert treatment for your varicose veins, book an appointment online or over the phone with Louisiana Heart and Vascular today.

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