October 7, 2020 Dr Zil

Suffering from a vein disorder such as varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can be scary, not only because both conditions are linked to our heart and poor blood circulation. When veins start to swell and bulge, you can be forgiven for thinking to yourself – can my varicose veins burst?! To understand if this is possible, we are going to take a closer look at varicose veins and how they develop.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are caused when vein valves aren’t functioning properly. When the vein valves become weak or faulty, they can no longer propel blood back to the heart and instead, blood collects in your vein. It’s currently the most prevalent venous condition in the country, affecting almost one-third of the population. Largely impacting the legs and feet, varicose veins can form in other parts of the body as well.

Venous insufficiency, which is one of the leading causes of varicose veins, is highly complex and can have multiple risk factors. While the exact reason venous insufficiency develops is often unknown, having more than one risk factor can increase your chances of developing the condition.

What are the symptoms of varicose veins?

The symptoms of varicose veins can be debilitating, many patients feel embarrassed by how their veins look but most importantly they can be very painful. For more on this, see our article why do varicose veins hurt.

Most common symptoms of varicose veins are:

  • Aching or throbbing legs
  • A feeling of tiredness or heaviness in the legs, especially at the end of the day
  • Any swelling in the legs, either around the ankles or around the damaged vein/s
  • Skin discolouration
  • Itchy skin. Learn more: Why are Varicose Veins Itchy

If these symptoms are ignored, over time, red blood cells that have leaked from the swollen veins begin to disintegrate. This will deposit haemoglobin and other substances into muscle tissue and skin. The result of this is that the skin covering these swollen veins can become inflamed, leading to painful ulcers. If untreated, this can lead to a darkening of the skin around the veins that is known as varicose eczema. Varicose eczema is a long-term condition that will not go away by itself.

So, can varicose veins burst?

In short, the answer to this is yes. When there’s enough pressure within the vein itself and the vein walls have been weakened, there are several things that can damage cause it to rupture. However, it’s rarely as simple as that.

Burst varicose veins fall into two categories internal ruptures and external ruptures.

  • Internal: If the walls of the vein are ruptured but the skin remains intact, the vein itself will bleed into the surrounding tissue. This often causes a burning sensation accompanied by dizziness and sometimes fainting. If this occurs, you should seek immediate medical help, as the risk of blood-loss is increased and can cause permanent damage if untreated.
  • External: This occurs when the vein and skin ruptures together. This is most often caused by a cut, scrape, bruise or other physical trauma. When this happens, the bleeding is often very severe. When this occurs, it’s crucial to put pressure on the wound and stop the bleeding with a towel, t-shirt or other clean fabric on hand. You should seek immediate medical help and ensure long-term recovery is addressed. When untreated, it can lead to active ulcers and other complications.

Diagram of a normal functioning vein with healthy vein valves, a varicose vein with damaged vein valves and then an image of how the varicose vein looks when compressed by wearing medical-grade compression stockings.

How do I stop it happening?

While there are many actions you can take to lower your risk of bleeding occurring, both internal and external, these are conservative measurements that are best done before your veins become problematic. This includes

  • Wearing compression stockings
  • Exercising regularly
  • Eating less fats and sugars, and more fruit and vegetables
  • Stretching/walking intermittently when working in one position for too long

However, if your veins are already developed, especially if you have varicose veins across one or both legs, the best treatment to prevent ruptured veins is by having them treated and removed by a vein specialist. Whether it’s Endovenous Laser Ablation or Sclerotherapy, by having the varicose vein sealed off and removed, you remove the risk of a ruptured vein and the complications that come with it.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.