Treatment will be more effective if you don’t wait.
One of the biggest complaints from people with varicose veins is often the appearance: It’s common to feel self-conscious of the blue and bulging veins on the leg and other parts of the body. However, it’s important to know that varicose veins are not simply a cosmetic concern, and that treatment may be necessary to prevent serious health problems.
To understand the importance of treating varicose veins, you need to understand what causes them. “There are many different causes of varicose veins. They essentially have to do with increased pressure,” says Kira Minkis, MD, PhD, dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Varicose veins occur when the walls of blood vessels become damaged from elevated blood pressure, which causes the veins to swell and bulge outwards from the skin. In other words, it’s a medical concern because it implies there is a problem with blood flow.
This blood flow problem could result in complications of varicose veins, such as:
Venous ulcers: These are skin wounds caused by a leaking varicose vein. When the vein cannot return the blood back to the heart, it starts leaking out of the vein instead.
Deep vein thrombosis, or DVT: This is when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, obstructing blood flow and causing blood to pool. Learn more about deep vein thrombosis here.
Pulmonary embolism: DVT can be dangerous if the blood clot travels to the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism that blocks blood flow to the lungs and is potentially fatal.
“The treatment of varicose veins early on is important because the more advanced they become, the more symptomatic and the more difficult it is to treat,” says Dr. Minkis. “You’re not necessarily just treating the varicose veins at that point, but you might also have to deal with the complications that they have caused as well.”
Additionally, varicose veins could become symptomatic, causing burning, pain, or swelling of the legs. Symptoms could be bad enough to affect your quality of life and inhibit your everyday activities. These unpleasant symptoms could be avoided by starting treatment early.
Who Needs Treatment for Varicose Veins?
Your doctor may recommend treatment for varicose veins if you’re at risk of DVT or a pulmonary embolism. You can also seek treatment to reduce the symptoms or appearance of varicose veins.
Treatment for varicose veins on the legs may vary: Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes to prevent or manage varicose veins, wearing compression socks, medications to relieve pain, and potentially procedures to close off varicose veins (endovenous ablation and sclerotherapy) or surgery to remove the vein altogether.
“After the treatment of varicose veins, patients should expect their legs to look pretty much back to normal, but that process can take some time,” says Dr. Minkis. Some bruising and discoloration may occur at first, but it typically fades back to a normal appearance (and more importantly, with healthier blood flow).
00:00.633 --> 00:01.332
00:01.333 --> 00:04.299
The treatment of varicose veins early on is important
00:04.300 --> 00:07.232
because the more advanced they become,
00:07.233 --> 00:10.166
the more symptomatic and the more difficult it is to treat,
00:10.167 --> 00:12.699
so you're not necessarily just treating the varicose veins
00:12.700 --> 00:14.832
at that point, but you might also have to deal
00:14.833 --> 00:18.732
with the complications that they have caused as well.
00:18.733 --> 00:22.132
00:22.133 --> 00:25.732
Varicose veins can be symptomatic or asymptomatic,
00:25.733 --> 00:27.966
meaning they cause symptoms or not.
00:27.967 --> 00:31.332
In some patients, they could become inflamed
00:31.333 --> 00:34.799
and the inflammation could cause discomfort.
00:34.800 --> 00:38.232
That could happen at times where you're standing
00:38.233 --> 00:41.266
for long periods of time or there is increased pressure
00:41.267 --> 00:43.699
on the veins and on the legs.
00:43.700 --> 00:47.199
And in certain areas, such as hemorrhoids
00:47.200 --> 00:49.366
or varicose veins around the esophagus,
00:49.367 --> 00:52.166
they could even bleed, at times of increased pressure.
00:52.167 --> 00:56.866
Therefore, they should be treated because in certain situations,
00:56.867 --> 01:01.366
the bleeding can be dangerous, such as around the esophagus.
01:01.367 --> 01:03.799
You could have an upper gastric bleed,
01:03.800 --> 01:06.199
which could lead to a lot of blood loss.
01:06.200 --> 01:11.132
On the legs, they generally don't tend to be as dangerous;
01:11.133 --> 01:15.966
however, they can be a sign of poor venous vasculature
01:15.967 --> 01:19.266
of the legs, and that can have other side effects,
01:19.267 --> 01:21.899
such as leading to breakdown of the skin,
01:21.900 --> 01:26.532
which we call venous ulcers, and that essentially causes sores
01:26.533 --> 01:29.399
on the skin, which can get infected.
01:29.400 --> 01:33.232
They could also be very painful, and should be treated.
01:33.233 --> 01:37.399
We have some excellent treatment options available for patients
01:37.400 --> 01:40.399
with varicose veins, and I would just recommend
01:40.400 --> 01:43.866
that if somebody notices that they're starting to develop them,
01:43.867 --> 01:47.699
to start wearing compression stockings and also seek the care
01:47.700 --> 01:51.232
of your physician, your dermatologist, or a vein specialist
01:51.233 --> 01:54.166
because there are many treatment options that we have
01:54.167 --> 01:58.666
that could help to prevent and to treat varicose veins
01:58.667 --> 02:02.132
and any complications related to varicose veins.
02:02.133 --> 02:07.100
Varicose veins. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (Accessed on February 26, 2020 at https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/varicose-veins.)
Varicose veins. Washington, DC: MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. (Accessed on February 26, 2020 at https://medlineplus.gov/varicoseveins.html.)
Venous skin ulcer. Michigan Medicine, University of Michigan. (Accessed on February 26, 2020 at https://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn8004.)