How Serious Are Varicose Veins?
If your mother or grandmother had varicose veins, you might have grown up hearing them say that 1) there is nothing that can really be done about them, and 2) that’s OK because they’re “not serious,” and mainly a “cosmetic problem.”
In their day, the first statement might have been true, but it really isn’t any more; these days there are fast, painless ways to eliminate varicose veins permanently. The second statement, however, has never been true. Yes, some people with varicose veins live with them for many years without experiencing side effects any more serious than itching, a little pain, and of course, how ugly they are. These “lucky ones” really can put on long pants and dark stockings, “pretend the varicose veins aren’t really there,” and get away with it.
But not everyone is that lucky. In a disturbingly large percentage of cases, the side effects caused by varicose veins DO get worse, and in some cases, much worse.
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What can happen when varicose veins remain untreated?
One of the things to remember if you have varicose veins and are tempted to just ignore them is that they are a bonafide circulatory disorder. The tiny valves in your veins that were supposed to keep blood flowing “upwards” towards the heart are damaged by a condition called chronic venous insufficiency or CVI. As a result, over time your circulation may become worse and worse, causing changes in the colour and texture of your legs.
Your skin may start to turn brown in colour and become more brittle and fragile, and thus more susceptible to injury. Minor scrapes can turn into open, bleeding sores called venous ulcers that do not respond to topical treatment and refuse to heal. 70% of all venous ulcers are due to varicose veins, caused by a kind of “domino effect.” The varicose veins lead to reflux, which leads to venous hypertension, and impaired microcirculation. This then leads to tissue responses as the skin covering the veins fail to get the oxygen they need, and result is a bleeding skin ulcer.
Another side effect that can happen is thrombosis
Although there is not a direct cause-and-effect relationship between varicose veins and the development of blood clots (thrombi) in the venous system, the same genetic conditions that increase varicose vein risk are also inherited, and make thrombosis more likely. Blood clots may form in the superficial (close to the surface of the skin) veins, leading to a condition called superficial thrombosis. It first manifests as a red streak along the affected vein, which then often escalates to inflammation (phlebitis), which leaves the veins feeling warm, tender, and swollen. This condition is typically more annoying than dangerous, because there is little danger that the clots will break up and travel elsewhere in the body.
A related and far more dangerous condition, however, is called deep vein thrombosis (DVT), in which blood clots begin to form in the deeper, larger veins further below the surface. If these blood clots break loose they can travel to the lungs (where they can cause a pulmonary embolism) or to the brain (where they can cause a stroke). Both conditions can be life-threatening, and in fact cause many deaths every year.
All of this is unnecessary, because varicose veins can be eliminated
The damage caused by CVI can’t be “repaired” because once the venous valves have been damaged, they can’t be fixed. But the diseased veins can easily be removed by using minimally invasive vein treatment techniques which can be completed in about an hour in the comfort of our clinics. Once the veins that have been damaged by CVI have been closed by these procedures, the side effects and other symptoms will significantly reduce as well.
To find out more about how modern vein care treatment can eliminate your varicose veins and protect your overall health, give the experts at The Vein Institute a call at 1 300 535 017. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you find the varicose vein treatment that is best for you.
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