Are Varicose Veins a Health Risk?
If you’ve ever looked down at your legs and wondered if you needed to have them checked out because your varicose veins just don’t look good, you aren’t alone. According to the American College of Phlebology, up to 50% of women in America have varicose veins or a related disorder of the veins. Varicose veins also affect roughly half of the population over age 50.
What you really want to know is if your varicose veins are a health risk. Will they cause any problems other than cosmetic ones? The simple answer is, it depends.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are bulging, gnarled veins. Any superficial vein can have this condition, although it’s most common in your legs and feet because there’s greater pressure placed on your lower extremities.
Arteries take blood from your heart to the rest of your body, and veins return the blood to the heart, so it can continue circulating through your body. The veins in your legs are working against gravity to get the blood all the way up to the heart, so they need pumps (muscle contractions in your legs) and tiny valves that keep the blood from flowing backward.
Varicose veins occur when these valves become weak or get damaged. If the valves no longer work correctly, the blood can pool in your veins, causing them to become enlarged and twisted.
What health risks can varicose veins cause?
Varicose veins can lead to other health problems as well:
- They can be the cause of spontaneous bleeding, which happens when a vein under a thin section of skin bursts.This usually isn’t serious, but bleeding should be treated.
- They can also lead to superficial phlebitis, which is an inflammation of a vein. Symptoms include pain and swelling, and this can lead to a greater risk of deep vein thrombosis, which involves a dangerous blood clot in the vein.
- If a varicose vein doesn’t provide enough drainage of fluid from your skin, it can also cause a leg ulcer to form.
Should you see a doctor for varicose veins?
For many people, varicose veins are just a cosmetic problem—they don’t like the way the veins look. Others may experience some aching and discomfort, while still others need to be treated to keep more serious issues from occurring.
If you have mild varicose veins (such as spider veins, which are small veins close to the skin’s surface), you’re probably fine. If you have some discomfort, but it gets better when you stay off your feet or wear compression socks, you are likely okay as well. If, however, your condition seems to be getting worse no matter what you do – or if you just want peace of mind – you should see a doctor.
Dr. Christopher Ibikunle and the team at Atlanta Body Institute can conduct some painless tests to determine how severe your varicose veins are and if they may be causing any additional health risks to you. Once they have the results of these tests, they will be able to recommend the best treatment for you.
Call any of their Atlanta-area locations to schedule an appointment today!