What are the risks and complications associated with untreated varicose veins?

The risks and complications associated with untreated varicose veins

Varicose veins are a common condition affecting 30% of people over the age of 16 in the UK. The symptoms can range from mild discomfort to severe pain, swelling and discolouration. Varicose veins can be treated using a wide range of methods depending on their severity, however, if left alone they can lead to more serious health conditions including blood clots (phlebitis), bleeding, skin damage and ulcers.

In this article, we take a closer look at the risks and complications associated with untreated varicose veins, and what to do if you believe to have developed the condition.

Blood clots (phlebitis and deep vein thrombosis)

Varicose veins appear when the one-way valves in our veins become weakened or damaged. This causes blood to flow backwards and pool in our veins, which creates pressure making them swell and enlarge, as well as leading to stagnant blood flow. It is this stagnant blood flow which can result in superficial blood clots (also known as phlebitis) which are painful and can even extend into the deep veins and cause a serious deep venous thrombosis (DVT).


When varicose veins burst near the surface of our skin, this can lead to bleeding. This can happen during exercise or other times when your legs and feet are active. While this is generally not a serious health issue, you should consider seeking medical advice and treatment if you experience any bleeding so it doesn’t recur.


Venous insufficiency results from poor venous circulation and can lead to problems such as leg ulcers. Approximately 70% of leg ulcers are caused by vein problems, specifically venous insufficiency, which can affect the superficial or deep veins. Symptoms include: swelling, rashes and brown discoloration on the affected area. For more information on ulcers, click here.

Lipodermatosclerosis (LDS)

Varicose veins cause lipodermatosclerosis (LDS) which is a condition that causes severe scarring of the skin, fat and underlying tissue. It can lead to pain, swelling and ulceration of the leg. The severity of symptoms varies greatly from patient to patient but can remain permanent if the condition is left untreated.

What should you do if you think you have varicose veins?

If you are ever in doubt about your varicose veins, we always recommend speaking to an expert vascular consultant like the ones we have in the Premier Veins team.

The consultant will perform a vein duplex ultrasound scan to assess blood flow and detect poorly functioning valves. They can then diagnose whether you have varicose veins and provide you with information on the best treatment plans available to you.

How we can help

Here at Premier Veins, we offer a FREE, no-obligation mini-consultation for anyone considering varicose vein treatment at one of our private clinics in Birmingham, Solihull, Leamington Spa and London. The consultation will provide you with an opportunity to:

To get started, click here and book your FREE mini-consultation or call 0121 769 2646 to speak to a member of our expert team today.

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