While varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort, for some, the main impact of varicose veins on their lives is embarrassment. To these people, varicose veins are simply a blemish, a small detail that they may choose to cover up for their own comfort.

However, there is risk involved when leaving varicose veins untreated. Untreated varicose veins can cause a whole spread of problems, ranging from skin discoloration to venous leg ulcers to, in the worst cases, deep vein thrombosis.

Fortunately, mitigating this danger is easy. In this article, we’re going to cover what can happen when varicose veins go untreated and how to stop these issues before they occur.

Skin Discoloration

This is one of the most common side effects of leaving varicose veins untreated. Occasionally, a varicose vein will leak blood into leg tissue. This area of the skin turns dark, which is frequently followed by (or happens concurrently with) swelling, inflammation, and pain. 

While this blood leakage is one cause of skin discoloration, other varicose-vein related maladies can produce comparable results. Venous reflux, where blood flows backwards in a vein and causes it to expand, is another issue that impacts varicose veins. Venous reflux results in similar issues to those listed above: skin discoloration, soreness, pain, etc.

Bleeding

It should be said that varicose veins are not likely to cause you to bleed externally directly. However, they do make bleeding more likely; the veins’ close position to the skin means that they wear away at it, bringing them gradually closer to the surface. When this happens, the veins become exposed to danger, increasing the probability that they will be accidentally hit and the skin will be broken. Most of the time, these skin breaks result in minimal pain and minor bleeding, though there is a chance that untreated varicose veins will bleed excessively if not dealt with in a timely fashion.

Venous Leg Ulcers

Varicose veins can sometimes be a sign that something worse is happening in your legs. Varicose veins are frequently a side effect of something called Chronic Venous Insufficiency, or CVI. CVI basically means that the valves in your leg veins are not functioning properly, resulting in impaired circulation. This is bad by itself; it can cause fatigue, pain, the above-mentioned varicose veins, and many other side effects.

But if CVI is left untreated, the consequences can be dramatic. In essence, CVI can mean the inflammation of multiple varicose veins at once, leading to the development of a leathery skin ulcer. This ulcer is usually dark brown or reddish-purple, and often feels hard to the touch. In some cases, this ulcer will emerge as a shallow red sore on the skin, more often than not covered in yellow tissue.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

This is one of the more threatening side effects of varicose veins. In this case, a blood clot develops in the leg, usually marked by skin discoloration, pain, or a warm feeling in the leg. However, cases have occurred where no symptoms are present. 

Once the clot develops, there is a risk that it can become dislodged, traveling up your bloodstream and into your lungs, where it can block blood flow and result in a pulmonary embolism. If a pulmonary embolism is suspected, seek immediate medical attention.

Prevention

In short, the formula is simple: keep active, keep a good diet, reduce or eliminate smoking or drinking, and lose weight if necessary. But there is more to varicose vein prevention than just these few details. For the full story, check out our blog post on varicose vein prevention.

Treat Varicose Veins

If the varicose veins have already formed, treatment is — thankfully — easy, quick, and, in most cases, almost entirely painless. Our clinic offers an extensive array of options for those considering treatment for their leg veins, from Ambulatory Phlebectomy to Laser Sclerotherapy and more. If you are interested in significantly reducing your risk of the above issues, varicose vein treatment is the best path for you.

To ensure that you are getting the right treatment for your exact needs, we’ve developed a free virtual vein consultation. Using the information we get from you, we can design a plan to take care of your varicose veins according to your needs. Click here for the consultation or to find out more.