Varicose veins is a common medical condition often dismissed as a mere cosmetic concern. However, beyond their unsightly appearance, these swollen and twisted veins can pose significant health risks when left untreated; they are also caused by issues within the body that may develop into other problems.
Despite affecting millions of people worldwide, few understand the potential complications that can arise if varicose veins are ignored. In this article, we delve into the various risks associated with untreated varicose veins and shed light on the importance of timely intervention.
Learn More: Understanding the Different Types of Varicose Veins
1. Increased Pain and Discomfort
Pain is one of the most common symptoms of varicose veins, and if they’re left untreated, the discomfort may develop from a mild achy feeling to one that’s more severe and persistent. This pain is often described as a dull, throbbing sensation that worsens after prolonged periods of standing or sitting. Over time, the pain can spread to the surrounding muscles and joints, making movement difficult and uncomfortable. Patients may also experience heaviness or fullness in the legs that make them feel tired and fatigued at the end of the day, as well as swelling in the lower legs and ankles.
2. Leg Ulcers
Varicose veins are usually caused by chronic venous insufficiency. It refers to the condition in which the valves in the veins fail to function properly, resulting in inadequate blood flow from the legs to the heart. When this happens, blood pools in the lower legs, increasing pressure and congestion in the veins.
Patients who do not go through varicose vein treatment may suffer from sustained high pressure and reduced blood flow in the legs’ affected veins and surrounding tissues. Over time, the excessive pressure can impair your tissues’ ability to heal and regenerate, cause tissue damage and compromise skin integrity, lead to fluid buildup, and result in the formation of venous leg ulcers—painful open sores that do not heal easily.
The walls of varicose veins may weaken and dilate over time, becoming more prone to injury. Even minor trauma, such as scratching or bumping the affected area, can cause the fragile veins to rupture and cause bleeding. Increased pressure within the veins can also further weaken the vein walls and make them more susceptible to tearing.
Bleeding due to untreated varicose veins is typically spontaneous and may occur during activities or even at rest. The extent of bleeding can range from minor oozing to significant hemorrhaging depending on factors such as the size and location of the varicose veins, level of physical activity, and any presence of clotting disorders.
4. Other Health Conditions
Varicose veins may not cause significant symptoms or complications, but they can sometimes contribute to the development of other health problems if left untreated. Some of these conditions may be life-threatening.
Reduced blood flow can lead to the accumulation of fluid and increased pressure in the tissues surrounding the affected veins. This can weaken the skin’s protective barrier, making it more prone to infection. If bacteria enters through open wounds or breaks in the skin, it can result in cellulitis—a bacterial infection of the skin that causes redness, swelling, and pain. It can spread to deeper tissues and potentially cause a more severe systemic infection.
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
Varicose veins increase the risk of blood clots developing within the affected veins, which can cause blood to pool in the legs. The condition in which a blood clot forms in a deep vein is called deep vein thrombosis. If the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, it can result in a potentially life-threatening conditions.
- Superficial Thrombophlebitis
Superficial thrombophlebitis refers to the inflammation of a superficial vein, often near the surface of the skin. It happens when a blood clot forms within a vein and causes the surrounding tissue to become red, swollen, and tender. If left untreated, the clot may grow or extend into a deeper vein, potentially leading to more severe complications.
Not all cases of varicose veins will progress to these complications, and some individuals may never experience any significant issues. However, varicose treatment can help to return you your confidence and grant you better vein health. It is advisable to seek medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of varicose veins.
Cheng SC Veins and Endovascular Clinic is a vein clinic in Singapore providing comprehensive services for all vein and arterial related diseases. Schedule your medical appointment with us to find relief.