COVID-19 Vaccine And Varicose Veins: What You Should Know

August 3, 2021 The Vein Institute

The emergence of blood clots from AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has seen an increasing number of concerns over the risks for those with varicose veins and if treatment is still possible for those who have been vaccinated.

While there has been a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a very rare but serious side effect called Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), the likelihood of COVID-19 vaccines resulting in blood clots is extremely low – four out of every million people.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) noticed higher rates of this rare condition in people aged 50-59 years and recommend the Pfizer vaccine as the preferred vaccine for people under the age of 60.

ATAGI also recommends people of all ages who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without serious adverse effects to have their second dose, while those over 60 can be safely vaccinated with either option.

Close up of gloved hands holding a syringe and a small vial labelled COVID-19 vaccine.

Does the risk of blood clots increase if I have the vaccine and varicose veins?

Having varicose veins increases the risk of developing clots in leg veins, with the condition occurring because blood falls back down the incompetent veins or when the vein wall stretches because of this reverse blood flow.

While there has been proven links between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine and blood clots, there has been no significant rise in the numbers of patients developing superficial venous thrombosis in varicose veins.

TTS is different from other blood clotting conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT) because it’s triggered by the immune system’s response to the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine – it results in both thrombosis and low platelet levels.

TTS typically occurs around 4 to 28 days after vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

As such, the current advice is that if you have varicose veins, there appears to be no increased risk of thrombosis in your varicose veins by having the AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines.

Can you still undergo varicose vein treatment after the vaccine?

While there is a small risk of deep-vein thrombosis when veins are treated using stripping techniques or under general anaesthetic, having them treated by local anaesthetic endovenous laser surgery dramatically decreased the risk of developing superficial venous thrombosis.

Postponing treatment because of worries about the risks of COVID-19 vaccines is more likely to cause a problem than having the vaccine and the varicose veins treated. When left untreated varicose veins (especially larger ones) can lead to serious complications including rashes, infections, bleeding, sores, and blood clots.

The ATAGI said there is no evidence of a risk of thrombotic disease after COVID-19 vaccination in people with a history of clotting conditions, including those with deep venous thrombosis and/or pulmonary embolism.

The Vein Institute does recommend waiting at least 10 days between the vaccine and treatment.

Do the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh any risk?

The AstraZeneca vaccine has a one in 1,000,000 chance of blood clots, while those with COVID-19 165,000 cases in every 1,000,000 will develop clotting. This means there is a higher risk of blood clots in patients who contract coronavirus compared to those vaccinated.

If you have had other types of blood clots in the past, or if you have risk factors for blood clots, you can still have the AstraZeneca vaccine – there is no evidence of an increased risk of developing TTS for people in this category.

The overall rate of blood clots has not risen in countries that have extensively used the AstraZeneca vaccine with millions of doses administered, meaning the benefits of vaccination clearly outweigh the risks in many circumstances.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive program using non-surgical laser treatment techniques. You can learn more in our Definitive Guide to Varicose Vein Treatment.

The benefits of non-surgical varicose vein treatment 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.

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