When left untreated, varicose veins can cause painful symptoms and lead to dangerous health conditions. Varicose veins are caused by vein disease, also known as venous insufficiency. This common health issue can occur when the valves or walls in your veins become weak or damaged. Results across studies suggest that in the general population, up to 17% of men and up to 40% of women experience chronic venous insufficiency.
Below, we discuss details of what can happen if varicose veins go untreated. We also share information on minimally invasive, outpatient vein treatment. If you have additional questions, we recommend consulting a vein specialist.
What Happens If Varicose Veins are Left Untreated?
Healthy veins have tiny, one-way valves that pump blood back to your heart. Weakened or damaged veins are unable to efficiently circulate blood, especially against gravity, often leading to blood pooling in leg veins. As more blood begins to pool, you may start to experience symptoms of vein disease, including varicose veins. Additional symptoms include leg swelling, cramping, itching, and fatigue.
Varicose veins left untreated can lead to pain and discomfort, place you at increased risk for serious health conditions like blood clots and venous ulcers, and impact your quality of life. On the other hand, varicose vein treatment can alleviate painful symptoms, reduce related health risks, and help you enjoy life to its fullest.
Symptoms of Untreated Varicose Veins
It is a common misconception that varicose veins are only a cosmetic issue. Underlying venous insufficiency and poor circulation can lead to chronic, daily pain. Varicose veins left untreated can make it difficult to stand for prolonged periods of time, walk for long distances, and participate in normal daily activities. Without treatment, varicose vein symptoms can become even worse over time.
Varicose vein symptoms can include:
- Swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet
- Aching or tired legs
- Burning in the calf or thigh
- Leg pain that is alleviated when you walk or elevate your legs
- Dry or itchy skin
- Difficulty standing for extended periods of time
- Leg wounds that are slow to heal or non-healing
- Numbness or tingling in legs
While vein disease is not usually life-threatening, it can lead to serious medical conditions. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, we recommend evaluation by a vein specialist. It is important to note that varicose veins will not go away on their own and may require treatment. Fortunately, there are several non-surgical treatment options available.
Complications of Untreated Varicose Veins
In addition to varicose vein symptoms, the conditions most often associated with untreated varicose veins include:
- Venous ulcers: Varicose veins left untreated can lead to the development of open wounds or sores on the legs or ankles. Venous ulcers may start off as a slow-healing break in the skin and get worse over time. The area can be tender, exude discharge, and become infected.
- Skin discoloration: Untreated varicose veins can cause your skin to become dry, hardened, or discolored. People with skin discoloration may notice areas of their calves, thighs, or ankles becoming tinted brown, purple, or dark blue. In some cases, it may look like deep bruising.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): This condition occurs when a blood clot develops in the deep venous system, usually in the legs. Blood clots can cause symptoms like pain, swelling, discoloration, cramping, or warmth to the affected area. If DVT becomes dislodged, it can travel through your bloodstream to your lungs, causing pulmonary embolism (PE). This is a life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment.
To prevent the above conditions, seek medical evaluation for untreated varicose veins.
Minimally Invasive Varicose Vein Treatment at USA Vein Clinics
At over 100 locations nationwide, USA Vein Clinics offers minimally invasive, office-based vein treatment for varicose veins, spider veins, and other venous conditions. Our experts can help alleviate your pain and discomfort, along with reducing your risks for developing serious health complications.
We make it our mission to support our patients every step of the way, from initial diagnosis and treatment, to recovery and beyond. Our vein specialists are highly skilled, compassionate, and driven to help our patients take back control of their lives. To get started on your path to recovery, call 888.768.3467 or schedule an initial consultation today.