Pain? Blood clots? Leg discoloration? Do you see bulging, twisted, visible veins on your legs? You may be part of the 1 in 3 adults over age 45 suffering from varicose veins. In some cases varicose veins may just be cosmetic, but if you have any symptoms or large, visible leg veins, chances are that your vein disease and underlying issues need to be looked at by a vein specialist.
Tell Me the Truth: Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
Patients frequently come in to their consultations at Metro Vein Centers asking, “Are my varicose veins dangerous? Will I get a blood clot?” But when it comes to varicose veins and the stages of vein diseases, there’s no simple answer. With such a wide variety of symptoms, health factors, and risks, it’s impossible to put all veins—and all people suffering from them—in one category. That said, varicose veins without symptoms such as pain, swelling, burning, or tingling are often not immediately dangerous, but can be a health risk as vein disease progresses.
This is exactly why we recommend that anyone suffering from varicose veins get an in-person consultation at one of our Metro Vein Centers locations across New Jersey, New York, and Michigan.
There are different stages and types of vein diseases such as deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in the lower leg; chronic venous disease, which includes varicose veins, spider veins, and chronic venous insufficiency; pulmonary embolism, which is a blood clot that breaks off and travels to the lung; and more.
In other words, zero pain doesn’t equal zero risk. Only a specialized vein doctor can determine your risk factors.
Now, let’s get into the what, how, and why of veins—and see why varicose veins may be dangerous.
Healthy Veins vs. Damaged Veins
In a healthy vein, blood flows in one direction. In a problematic vein, the damaged valves start to leak, allowing blood flow in both directions. This causes fluids to build up inside your vein and not know where to go, which is what causes varicose veins to be bulging, raised, twisted, and painful.
Your veins can be a danger when the blood starts to leak and cause pressure, kind of like a traffic jam in your legs.
I Don’t Know Which Kinds of Veins I Have
The types of veins you can see on your legs are generally either varicose veins or spider veins. Although both are vein disorders, only one causes symptoms. Do you know which one?
Varicose veins are large, bulging veins that can cause pain and other symptoms in your legs. Specifically, varicose veins are flesh-colored, greenish-blue, or purplish-red. They may be raised on the surface of your leg, and visible from a distance. These swollen veins form due to poor blood flow in the legs, and as a result, pressure and fluid typically build up in your calves or thighs, causing cramping, pain, and twisted veins.
In comparison, spider veins are small—generally only a few millimeters across. They’re web-like veins that usually produce few or no symptoms. Spider veins also form due to poor blood flow, but in very tiny and less impactful pathways. They don’t cause pain, are superficial (visible on your skin’s surface), and are generally only cosmetic.
What are the Symptoms of Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins can produce no symptoms, or extreme symptoms. One leg may hurt while the other is fine. Or perhaps veins on your thigh and the back of your knee will be itching and irritated while your calf feels fine.
Some of the more extreme symptoms of varicose veins include leg pain, heaviness and fatigue in the lower extremities, swelling in the ankles or legs, bleeding, cramping, itchiness, sensitivity, and more. Varicose vein symptoms actually get worse over time, and will not go away without medical treatment.
I Don’t See Any Large, Bulging Veins on My Legs…I’m Fine, Right?
False. Even if you have no visible varicose veins, if you have symptoms in your legs such as pain, swelling, aching, itching, or restless legs, you may be suffering from underlying vein diseases.
Because chronic venous insufficiency, the medical diagnosis often accompanying varicose veins, can be invisible, our MVC vein specialists are trained with the latest diagnostic technology to see any issues under the surface in your legs. At your first consultation, your vein doctor may use an ultrasound machine to examine any potential issues that may not be visible.
Varicose veins hidden deep inside the venous networks in your legs will still cause symptoms—some visible, and some not. If you have smooth legs but experience discomfort, swollen legs, pain, and/or aching in your legs, schedule an appointment with a vein specialist right away.
What Can I Do About the Pain in My Legs? Will My Varicose Veins Go Away By Themselves?
Painful varicose veins can be unpleasant and dangerous. You’ll experience pain in your legs when veins fail to allow proper blood flow.
The best remedy is not simply eating more nuts and fiber, or drinking apple cider vinegar, or getting weekly massages (we wish!). In fact, these varicose vein “remedies” have shown to be completely inaccurate and not a single study has shown the efficacy of massage, diet change, or anything else.
Varicose veins will unfortunately only continue to worsen, and the only method that cures them is hands-on medical treatment. Our board-certified Metro Veins Centers doctors—with vein clinics in Michigan, New York, and New Jersey—will examine your legs during your consultation, take down your health history, and assess your next treatment steps.
So Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?
Varicose veins can be visible on the legs as well as invisible underneath the surface of the skin. They can produce almost no symptoms at all, or be extremely painful. And they can be nothing to worry about, or a serious medical concern. So can varicose veins be dangerous? Yes—though the only way to get a definitive, trustworthy answer is to come in for an appointment as soon as possible. We have over a dozen board-certified, nationally accredited Metro Vein Centers vein specialists across three states, and we’ll be able to explain the best next steps for your legs.
Insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid, will often cover varicose vein treatment that is medically necessary. At your MVC, we’ll work to determine the optimal treatment plan for you after your initial consultation.
Don’t wait, because the veins in your legs may be a warning sign. Get them looked at as soon as possible!
Book a Metro Veins Centers consultation today. Start your journey here
Trusted insight from the nationally accredited, board-certified vein doctors at Metro Vein Centers.