submitted by Steven K. Allen, D.O., Director, The Center for Advanced Vein Therapy
Varicose veins, especially if they are painful, can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as a blood clot or a skin infection. Delaying treatment will not improve your condition or make it go away. Left untreated, the condition may worsen which could result in more serious complications later. For example:
Swollen Legs: Increased pressure in your veins can cause fluid buildup that leaks into surrounding tissue resulting in swelling. Sensory cues include a feeling of tightness and an impression left on your skin after removing your socks or shoes. Although leg elevation or wearing pressure socks may provide temporary relief, the long-term effects include skin changes including red-brown staining in the area.
Skin Ulcers: Untreated varicose veins can negatively impact the health of skin tissue. This can make it more difficult to recover from bruises or minor injuries as the healing process is impeded by a decreased flow of nutrients to the injured area. In extreme cases, this can create ulcers that may not be able to heal themselves.
Skin Infection: Swelling stretches the skin tissue which makes it easier for bacteria to seep into deeper tissue. This could result in cellulitis which presents as redness or and warmth. Skin infections are treated by medications and reducing the swelling will decrease recovery time.
Bleeding: When someone has varicose veins there is a more than normal amount of blood just below the surface of the skin. If the area is cut, the bleeding may be more severe than normal, and it will take longer to stop.
Superficial Thrombophlebitis: When a vein near the skin is bruised or irritated it may become inflamed, warm, and tender resulting in the formation of a superficial vein clot. This is diagnosed with an ultrasound. Immediate treatment with blood thinners and an anti-inflammatory drug will help to reduce the clot. Untreated, this may lead to a DVT. In the general population, the incidence of DVT is 0.6% but if you have had a superficial thrombophlebitis the incidence of DVT rises almost tenfold (5.9%).
Deep Vein Thrombosis: Also known as a DVT, this is a serious medical condition. Symptoms initially include swollen, warm, red, and a painful leg. In rare cases, a blood clot can break away and travel to the lungs. This can be life threatening.
In colder weather, we cover up our legs, but these medical problems do not disappear. It may be time to see a vein doctor for a free consultation as there are non-invasive or minimally invasive treatment options available that may significantly improve your condition.
The Center for Advanced Vein Therapy is located at 2600 Philmont Avenue, Suite 205, Huntingdon Valley.
Contact them at 267-728-7440.