Varicose veins occur when the valves inside the veins become damaged or weakened. These valves prevent the backflow of blood within the veins and once damaged causes blood to pool in the veins. Pooling of blood can cause swelling, pain and aching legs. The interruption of blood flow can also cause superficial (close to the skin) clots to develop. This condition is known as phlebitis. Phlebitis is not life threatening but it can be very painful. However, it can be cause for concern in the future as it can develop into more serious complications. This condition can worsen as the superficial clots can move into a deep vein causing deep vein cloths. Research shows that 20%-40% people with superficial clots can develop deep vein cloths otherwise known as deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis can break loose and travel to the lungs via the blood stream and ultimately causes a life threatening condition known as pulmonary embolism. Here the arteries of the lungs becomes blocked with a clot causing shortness of breath and chest pains.
Other complications of varicose veins if left untreated include swelling of legs, hyperpigmentation of the skin by the ankle and also painful venous leg ulcers (venous disease) which occur on the inner leg above the ankle.
Varicose veins are more than just a cosmetic concern and hence should be treated in order to prevent further complications. Treatments include the wearing of compress stockings; these promote blood flow in the legs. In more serious cases, certain procedures can be done e.g. sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy and endovenous laser ablation. Endovenous laser ablation is the one of the most common and effective varicose treatments. It works by using a laser needle to shrink defective veins which diverts blood to other veins.
The appearance of varicose veins are more than just an unsightly look as they can cause painful or even life threatening complications in the future e.g. venous leg ulcers and blood clots. They should not be ignored – especially if symptoms such as pain and redness are already present.
Contact ALVC today to schedule a consultation with our vein specialists.