You have varicose veins in your lower legs and you’re not exactly thrilled with the cosmetic effect they’re having, but should you be concerned for health reasons?
About one-third of adults in the United States have varicose veins, so it’s safe to say that vascular experts like Dr. Ariel Soffer and the team here at Soffer Health Institute have ample experience with the condition.
In terms of varicose veins being dangerous, medically speaking, here’s what we’ve found.
Why the bulging veins?
Varicose veins are the result of faulty or weak valves in the veins in your legs. Under normal circumstances, blood that circulates back up to your heart for oxygen relies on tiny, one-way valves in your leg veins to keep it from spilling backward.
Should these valves weaken and not close all the way, blood slips downward and pools in the vein, causing it to engorge and rise to the surface of your skin.
There are many factors that place you more at risk for these veins, including:
- Gender — females are more prone to varicose veins, thanks to hormones
- Age — valves weaken over time
- Obesity — too much pressure on the veins
- Standing for long periods
As well, if you lead a sedentary lifestyle and your calf muscles are weak, this lack of support can encourage varicose veins to develop.
Should I be worried about varicose veins?
In a majority of cases, varicose veins aren’t dangerous because they occur in superficial veins, which are only responsible for 10% of the circulatory duties in your legs. The other 90% of the leg circulation is handled by deep veins.
As a result, varicose veins are mostly a cosmetic concern, but there are times when these veins can become symptomatic.
Problematic varicose veins may cause:
- Itching around the veins
- Pain in the lower legs — an ache or cramping
- A feeling of heaviness in the legs
- Restless legs at night
- Leg swelling
In severe cases, ulcers can develop around the varicose veins, and these open wounds can be slow to heal due to the compromised circulation. The presence of venous ulcers often points to chronic venous insufficiency, which affects between 6 and 7 million people in the US.
Even if you only have mild symptoms, such as a dull ache or itchiness, it’s a sign of potential circulatory problems in your legs, which we can help you address before the problem progresses.
Another issue we want to point out is that varicose veins are associated with a greater risk of deep veins thrombosis (DVT). The exact nature of this association is unclear, but people with varicose veins develop DVT more often than people who don’t have these abnormal veins.
Whether your varicose veins are symptomatic or not, it’s always a good idea to come in for a vein evaluation. During this visit, we can assess your circulatory health, as well as discuss prevention techniques and treatment options for varicose veins.
To get started, please contact one of our offices in Weston or Aventura, Florida, to set up an appointment.