Complications of Varicose Veins


Complications of Varicose Veins

Ignoring the symptoms of varicose veins and avoiding treatment may lead to further complications. Here are the top 7 complications patients experience due to varicose veins.

Complications can range from mild to severe and there is no way to determine if someone will develop any of all of the potential complications of varicose veins. Therefore it is important to be aware of these complications to hopefully prevent or to seek proper varicose vein treatment.

To learn more about compression socks, contact Dr. Mackay at 1-727-261-0047 or fill out an appointment request form.

1. Drainage

As pressure builds up in the veins, fluid from the blood, called serous fluid, is pushed out of the veins and into the surrounding tissue.  This build-up of fluid in the tissue is seen as swelling in the legs. With increased swelling and fluid in the tissue, the body attempts to find a way to remove the fluid and can push this out through the skin.  This is commonly a clear yellow liquid that can ooze from the legs.

2. Skin Changes

Swelling that has been present for a long time can eventually lead to the hardening and color change of the skin of the legs.  The hardened areas are usually tender and can have a red or brown color. These skin changes are permanent, even if treatment is started.

3. Rash

The skin can become inflamed and results in a dermatitis, which is a rash that stems from an inflammatory condition in the skin.  The rash is often scaly and red. The dermatitis is readily treated with lotions, but once the rash appears, this is also a permanent condition.

4. Ulcers

With the excess swelling and fluid found in the tissue, this leads to improper nutrients from the blood reaching the skin.  Therefore, small trauma to the legs can lead to ulcers that can take a long time to heal.

5. Infection

Bacteria are naturally found all over our body.  The swelling of the legs impairs the skin’s ability to act as a line of defense to prevent bacteria from entering the skin.  This, along with open wounds from ulcers and drainage from increased swelling, introduces bacteria into the skin, resulting in a skin infection called cellulitis.

6. Bleeding

Varicose veins have pooled blood that is not readily flowing properly.  Since varicose veins are close to the skin surface, a small trauma to the leg and over the varicose vein can cause a significant amount of blood loss. If there is trauma, but the skin is not broke, the vein can bleed in the tissues, causing a large bruise

7. Blood Clots

There are two types of blood clots, superficial and deep.  Superficial clots are more commonly called thrombophlebitis.  This type of clot occurs within the varicose vein itself, due to the blood pooling and clotting as it is not constantly moving.  Deep venous thrombosis, or DVT, is the most concerning complication. This type of clot forms in the deep veins in the leg. It can lead to a life-threatening condition, called a pulmonary embolism, if all of the clot, or a piece of the clot, breaks off and enters the circulation. 

Familiarization with the common and serious complications of varicose veins is important, so that you may seek treatment to prevent or treat these complications appropriately. Speak with your doctor to determine which treatments may be right for you.

About Varicose Veins

Those swollen, engorged, and purple veins that makes you cover your legs on a daily basis may not just be a concern for their appearance, but may cause complications that can be a potential danger for your health. Veins are thin-walled tunnels that contain one-way valves that help to prevent blood from flowing backwards in the vein. These valves can stop functioning properly or the wall of vein can weaken from increased pressure, or both, which can lead to blood pooling in the vein and the formation of varicose veins.


This typically causes swelling, pain, heaviness, and cramping of the legs from the varicose veins. Ignoring these symptoms and avoiding treatment may lead to further complications of varicose veins, if left untreated. 

To learn more about compression socks, contact Dr. Mackay at 1-727-261-0047 or fill out an appointment request form.

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