The Vein Center & CosMed

What are the health risks of not getting veins fixed?

Large spider veins, especially around the ankle, can compress the overlying skin, becoming even more superficial than before. Sometimes minor trauma can cause an actual defect in the skin into the spider vein. That can cause a slight amount of bleeding. Minor compression and elevation of the extremity will cause the bleeding to stop.

Other than that, there are no serious problems associated with spider veins, and that phenomenon of slight bleeding is relatively rare. It usually occurs in older patients who have had long standing spider veins. Spider veins also can cause itching, throbbing, heaviness and general discomfort.

Varicose veins, if left untreated, can certainly be symptomatic. They can interfere with one’s life as far as routine activities are concerned. They can cause pain and they can cause aching. They can cause burning, and they can sometimes make it difficult for people to sleep.

The more severe problem associated with varicose veins left untreated is the pressure in the varicose veins causing small blood vessels at the ankles and lower legs to leak a small amount of serum from the pressure the varicose veins are exerting. That amount of serum can cause swelling of the ankle and ultimately can cause the skin around the ankles to become thick and leathery, assuming a golden discoloration. That phenomenon is called lipodermatosclerosis. The skin turning that dark golden color is permanent.

The swelling can cause more severe problems. It can cause skin to break down around the ankle and cause ulcer formation, and it’s very difficult to treat. It tends to be a chronic problem that should be prevented at all costs.

Otherwise, there is one other thing varicose veins can do. Because blood is sitting in the veins without moving, it has a tendency to clot. This phenomenon results in superficial thrombophlebitis--a clot in a superficial vein, usually a varicose vein. The area turns red, hot, and tender and may form a streak going up the patient’s leg. However, it goes away by itself. It is usually treated using anti-inflammatories, warm soaks, and elevation when possible.

These problems are some of the many patients with varicose veins experience. Once the veins are gone, this problem no longer exists. Although it can occur also in normal veins, it has a higher tendency to occur in varicose veins.