For most people, varicose veins are a cosmetic concern that causes embarrassment and prevents you from wearing the attire and footwear that you want. In some cases, people with untreated varicose veins may also experience some discomfort and other symptoms such as pain, restless legs, swelling, and heaviness in the legs.
It is recommended that you visit a vein specialist as early as possible before the symptoms of varicose veins get worse. If left untreated, patients often report more severe symptoms that may require emergency treatment, such as:
- Bleeding – When the skin around the affected veins becomes damaged to the extent of exposing the varicose vein, a small puncture could result in spontaneous bleeding. This blood loss is usually painless.
- Hyperpigmentation – Refers to darkening of the skin around the area with varicose veins. As pressure increases in the bulging veins, some of the oxygen-depleted blood may begin to leak from affected veins and flow into the surrounding tissues, resulting in inflammation, swelling, and discolored skin pigmentation. Commonly occurs in the lower leg area.
- Venous leg ulcers – These also occur when the affected veins burst due to increased pressure, allowing blood to flow into the surrounding tissues. When the red blood cells interact directly with the tissues, they may cause the skin to break down and form painful ulcers. These ulcers typically won’t heal until you treat the varicose veins.
- Lipodermatosclerosis – This is a result of venous insufficiency where the skin around the problematic veins hardens and becomes discolored. Some pain and swelling is also very common. This usually occurs around the ankles.
- Superficial thrombophlebitis – clotting or damage of the veins located just below the surface of the skin can cause decreased blood flow, resulting in swelling, redness, and pain around that area.
- Deep vein thrombosis – This occurs when blood clots in the deep veins of the leg. It increases the risk of pulmonary embolism, where the blood clots break off and get carried to the lungs, resulting in shortness of breath and even death
Untreated varicose veins can cause serious medical complications that include ulcerations (large sores), bleeding, and thrombophlebitis (blood clots), due to the increased pressure and blood pooling in the veins.
Please visit a vein specialist as early as possible for diagnosis and treatment.