What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins in the legs, ankles or feet. They are a blue or purple colour and can be lumpy, twisted or bulging in appearance.
Around one in three people have varicose veins, with women being four times more likely to develop the condition than men.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged and swollen veins in the legs, ankles or feet. They are a blue or purple colour and can be lumpy, twisted or bulging in appearance. Around one in three people have varicose veins, with women being four times more likely to develop the condition than men.
What causes varicose veins?
Veins contain tiny one-way valves that open to allow blood to flow back up to your heart. When vein walls lose their elasticity, the valves can weaken, causing blood to flow backwards. Blood then collects in your veins, creating high pressure and making them swell and enlarge. Medical professionals do not yet fully understand why this happens, but they do know that there are certain risk factors.
What are the symptoms of varicose veins?
Our patients report a wide range of symptoms, including:
- Achy, heavy and restless legs
- Pain, itching or throbbing over a prominent vein
- Swollen ankles and feet
- Muscle cramps
- Dry skin
- Colour changes in the lower leg
Read Varicose Veins Pain: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment for more information on the management of varicose vein pain and discomfort.
Can varicose veins cause other health problems?
Aside from being a cosmetic issue, varicose veins can lead to other health complications if left untreated, including:
If your varicose veins are near the surface of the skin, they may bleed if you cut or knock your leg. The bleeding may be difficult to stop due to the high pressure in the vein. In most cases, you can apply a simple first aid to stem the bleeding — lie down and elevate your leg above your heart while applying pressure to the wound. If this doesn’t work, seek immediate medical advice.
When the blood stops flowing in your veins, it can thicken and clot, causing one or more of the conditions described below.
This is an inflamed vein close to the surface of the skin. The affected vein becomes hot, hard, painful and appears lumpy. There is a small risk of the clot migrating to a deep vein where it can progress to a deep vein thrombosis. Click here for more information about this condition and how we can help.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
A blood clot within a deep vein in the leg that can cause pain and swelling. A DVT may lead to serious complications, such as a pulmonary embolism. This is when a piece of the clot breaks off into the bloodstream and blocks one of the blood vessels in the lungs.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)
When blood collects in the veins, it affects the way that skin exchanges oxygen, nutrients and waste products with your blood. If this occurs over a long period, it is called chronic venous insufficiency. Conditions associated with CVI include:
- Varicose eczema – Patches of skin become red, itchy and scaly. Varicose eczema usually occurs in the lower leg, ankle or over the affected vein.
- Lipodermatosclerosis – The skin above the varicose vein becomes fragile, appears pink or brown and feels tight and hard to the touch. Further injury to the area can result in a leg ulcer.
The good news is that with the right treatment, varicose veins and their associated complications can be remedied.
What treatments do you offer?
Your treatment journey will begin with a thorough consultation and clinical examination. Here we determine a treatment plan that will give you the best possible outcome for your specific vein issues.