October 9


The Hidden Dangers of Untreated Varicose Veins

By Dr. Edward Mackay

October 9, 2017

The Hidden Dangers of Untreated Varicose Veins

Varicose veins occur when the veins close to the surface of your skin become enlarged and twisted. Often blue or purple in appearance, any vein can become varicose. However, the veins in your legs are the ones most commonly affected.

Varicose veins affect an estimated 40 million Americans and tend to affect more women than men. While these large, bulging veins are most often an aesthetic nuisance, it's important to know that they're more than a cosmetic problem.

They may signal danger with your circulatory system and if left untreated, may put your circulatory health at risk. Here are the hidden dangers of untreated varicose veins and what you can do about it.

Circulatory Problems

This means that if you don't treat varicose veins, you risk potentially serious circulatory complications.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

When a blood clot forms in one of your deep veins, it's known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If you have varicose veins, you're at an increased risk of forming deep vein blood clots. The danger of DVT occurs when a clot breaks off and circulates through your blood where it can damage your organs. 

Pulmonary embolism, for example, is most often the result of a blood clot from the legs that travels to and lodges in the lungs, blocking a major artery. It can cause chest pain, shortness of breath and a cough that brings up pinkish red fluid.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Varicose veins commonly cause a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which occurs when blood pools in the veins of your legs, making it difficult for blood to circulate from your legs to your heart. The inadequate circulation often causes fluid to accumulate in the legs, a condition known as edema. 

People with CVI often experience pain, cramps and weakness in their legs. It may affect your mobility and reduce your quality of life.


Varicose veins often cause a condition known as phlebitis, which is when your veins become inflamed. The inflammation can occur in deeper veins, or veins closer to the surface. When it occurs in veins close to the surface, it's called superficial phlebitis, which rarely causes serious problems. 

However, when inflammation occurs in deeper veins, your circulation becomes affected and your risk of other problems, such as narrowing of the arteries and blood clots, increases. 

Treatment Options

If caught early, compression stockings are sometimes enough to boost blood flow and prevent complications. When conservative treatments fail to work, surgery becomes necessary. The good news is there are numerous options for treating varicose veins.

Treatment options include Radiofrequency Ablation, VenaSeal, Micro-Foam Phlebectomy, Ultra Sound Guided Sclerotherapy, Clarivein, Laser Therapy and Ligation.

Laser therapy is a common approach that utilizes laser energy to stimulate vein collapse. It's done on an outpatient basis and usually takes about 30 minutes. 

Ligation is another option. In this procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision and surgically ties off the vein to prevent pooling and other complications.

Risk Factors

Being, overweight and having a family history of varicose veins increases the risk that you'll get them. Your risk of varicose veins also increases with age due to the wear and tear of the anatomy in your veins that are responsible for regulating blood flow. 


Unfortunately, it's not always possible to prevent varicose veins. Activities that improve blood flow, like being physically active, may reduce your risk.

The important thing to know is that if you have varicose veins, you have options to prevent potentially dangerous complications. Contact Dr. Mackay Vein & Circulation Specialist to find out how we can help.

Learn more about the dangers of varicose veins.

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