Doctors often say varicose veins are a sign of something serious, but how serious are varicose veins?
Most people think that varicose veins are just an appearance or comfort issue, but their presence could be the sign of a more serious underlying condition. Here’s what you must know:
Varicose veins are quite common and one the studies reported an incidence rate of 13.5 per 1000-person years. As much as men also suffer from varicose veins but they also tend to occur more in women who have had more than two pregnancies, the overweight and in people over 50.
The term varicose originates from the Latin ‘varix’, which means twisted. Varicose veins are caused by stretching that occurs in veins of the legs that are close to the skin surface, allowing blood to pool in the legs.
Legs may swell, be painful or discomfort but severe varicose veins may also cause poor circulation which carries medical risks.
Varicose veins may result in several medical conditions. Most of these conditions concern changes in the skin but can also cause serious blood clots to develop.
Medical conditions associated with varicose veins may include:
Varicose eczema: Dry, itchy skin may develop due to lack of blood flow. It is sometimes treatable with a steroid cream.
Skin ulcers: Lack of blood supply may starve the skin tissue of oxygen, causing it to degrade. This may result in venous ulcers, generally around the ankles. If the ulcers become infected, antibiotic treatment may be needed.
Lipodermatoscleosis: The skin around the ankles may become hardened and discoloured. As damage and pressure injury development of scar tissue on the skin. This condition is called “champagne ankles”.
Panniculitis: Panniculitis is almost the same as lipodermatosclerosis but rather than being hardened and yellow, the skin become irritated and sore around the ankles.
Lymphoedema: After years of unrelieved pressure, the lymph system may not work well. This may cause lymph fluid to accumulate and result in extreme swelling. Lymphoedema is not easily treatable.
Superficial Thrombophlebitis: The blood can accumulate; the slow flow may cause it to clot. In some cases, the clot may remain localized, resulting in reddened skin. Occasionally, the clot may continue to grow and increase the risk of pulmonary embolism, particularly if the clot develops close to a vein junction or is in deeper tissue.
Pain in the legs may be insignificant and simply due to excessive pressure but may indicate other issues such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT).