Bulging, twisting veins have developed in your legs, and you’re dismayed by the cosmetic impact they’re having on your once-smooth skin. More importantly, you wonder whether you should be concerned, medically speaking, about your varicose veins.
Varicose veins affect up to 35% of people in the United States and, for most, these veins won’t move past a cosmetic concern. But not always.
In this month’s blog post, Dr. Madaiah Revana and the team here at Humble Cardiology Associates are taking a deeper dive on some potential complications that stem from varicose veins.
Here are a few reasons why it’s a good idea to pay close attention to these vascular lesions.
A vascular problem
The veins in your legs have a tougher job than other blood vessels in your body, as they have to fight both distance and gravity to push blood back up to your heart for oxygen.
To help with this task, these veins contain small, one-way valves that close after blood passes through, preventing the liquid from spilling backward and, instead, encouraging it to move upward.
If these valves weaken and don’t close properly, blood can leak backward and engorge the vein, making it bulge up against the surface of your skin.
A mostly, but not always, harmless issue
Varicose veins occur in superficial leg veins, which carry only about 10% of the blood circulating in your legs back to your heart. The majority of the workload — 90% — falls to veins deeper in your legs that rely on muscles to help push blood upward.
As a result, varicose veins aren’t necessarily a concern when it comes to circulation, as their workload isn’t all that great. In other words, the appearance of these veins doesn’t mean that there’s less blood flowing back up to your heart. In fact, when we treat varicose veins, we collapse or shut down the vein, and your blood quickly and easily reroutes itself to another superficial vein without issue.
When we’re concerned about varicose veins
There are times when varicose veins can lead to more serious complications, and heading this list are venous ulcers. Sometimes, the pressure of the varicosed vein can be so great that an open sore develops on the surface of your skin.
Another issue that can lead to these ulcers, as well as varicose veins, is chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which affects up to 7 million people in the US. CVI is the same issue we described above — weakened valves in your veins. As the name suggests, CVI is chronic and can affect more important veins in your legs, compromising the circulation in your lower limbs.
If the circulation in your lower legs is compromised, issues like ulcers are more serious since they don’t heal easily due to lack of resources.
Lastly, a potentially serious complication that can be connected to varicose veins are blood clots. Thankfully, this is a rare connection.
While complications from varicose veins aren’t common, they can happen. If you start to experience any symptoms, such as itchiness, cramping, discoloration, or open sores around your varicose veins, it’s important to come see us.
For expert treatment of problematic varicose veins, please schedule an appointment with us at one of our two offices in Humble or Houston, Texas, by clicking here.