Varicose veins affect about 35% of American adults, and if you’re one of them, you’re probably very familiar with the cosmetic problems they cause. Purplish, twisted, and often bulging, there’s no denying that varicose veins are just plain unattractive.
But their appearance is just one thing you need to be concerned about. Many varicose veins are a sign of a more serious medical problem. At TLC Medical Group Inc, Anthony B. Lewis MD, FACC, and his team use state-of-the-art techniques to determine the cause of varicose veins, so every patient can enjoy the most appropriate care and the best results, too. If you have varicose veins, here’s what you should know.
Varicose veins are caused by a problem with tiny valves inside the veins. Normally, these valves open and close in rapid succession, keeping your blood flowing in the right direction — for instance, from your feet back toward your heart and lungs.
If these valves are damaged, they don’t open and close the way they’re supposed to, allowing blood to slow down, “pool up,” and even flow in the wrong direction. The bluish, bulging appearance of varicose veins occurs when the valves interfere with circulation in that one particular vein.
In addition to their visible characteristics, like their bluish or purplish color or their puffy, bulging outline, varicose veins can cause other symptoms, too, like:
Some people have one or many symptoms, while for others, symptoms may be very mild or even nonexistent, apart from the change in vein color.
Varicose veins can be pretty unattractive, but that’s not the only concern you should have. Any varicose vein — even a relatively small one — is a sign that circulation in that area is impaired. In fact, sometimes varicose veins can be a sign of a more serious underlying circulation problem.
Varicose veins can be a sign of DVT, a condition caused by a blood clot deep in your leg. Without appropriate medical care, the clot can break apart and travel to your lungs, where it can cause serious and even life-threatening complications.
Superficial thrombophlebitis happens when a blood clot develops close to the surface of your skin. In addition to the redness, pain, and swelling these clots can cause, they can also be a more visible sign of deeper clots, or DVT.
Stasis dermatitis is an itchy skin condition associated with varicose veins. When blood and other fluids build up inside more superficial veins, it can make your skin itch. Not only is stasis dermatitis uncomfortable, but it can also lead to the next item on this list — venous ulcers.
These deep, slow-to-heal sores are a common problem for many people with varicose veins. Without medical treatment, varicose veins cause your skin to become thinner, more fragile, and more irritated. Rubbing, scratching, or even a slight bump can cause a cut or sore to form. Since they take longer to heal, these sores are also at an increased risk of infection.
Although swelling may not seem like a serious medical problem, it’s certainly a sign of a more serious issue. Plus, when your tissues swell, they can press on tinier veins, causing even more problems with your circulation. Swelling is also associated with DVT, so any type of unusual swelling or water retention is a reason to see Dr. Lewis.
Yes, you could hide your varicose veins under pants or long sleeves. But hiding those veins won’t make them go away — and it also won’t treat the potentially serious problems that could be at the root of those veins.
If you have varicose veins, a vein evaluation is the first step toward making sure you get the best treatment for your needs and your health. To schedule your office visit, call the office in Port St. Lucie, Florida, or book an appointment online, and learn how Dr. Lewis can help.