Are Varicose Veins Exclusively Cosmetic or a Sign of Something Deeper?

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Are Varicose Veins Exclusively Cosmetic or a Sign of Something Deeper?

Varicose veins look awful when reaching the stage where gnarled vessels bulge from the skin’s surface. While in most cases, varicose veins are a treatable cosmetic condition, there are times when they might be associated with more serious conditions.

When the tangled and discolored map of varicose veins appear on your legs, it may be tempting to devote yourself to a life of long pants. That’s unnecessary since it’s easy to treat varicose veins and spider veins, their smaller cousins. 

However, there are rare cases when varicose veins may be a symptom of a more serious condition. Even when they aren’t, varicose veins can cause discomfort or pain. Regardless of your situation, an evaluation from our team of experts at ARK Cardiovascular & Arrhythmia Center is the smart choice to sidestep the appearance and health consequences associated with these dysfunctional veins. 

Why do varicose veins form? 

When you think about blood circulation, it’s easy to focus on the heart as the pumping motor that makes blood move. This is true for arteries, the blood vessels coming from the heart, but blood returns through the arteries. Your heartbeat has little effect on the forward movement of blood, particularly from the feet and legs, which need to move blood uphill. 

Instead, veins receive pumping action from muscle movement. For example, when you go for a walk, the contraction and relaxation of your leg muscles provide forward momentum for the veins. This is assisted by vein construction, as a series of valves inside your veins allow blood to move toward the heart while closing to block reversing flow. 

Varicose veins form when these valves start to fail. Backward-moving blood pools and presses on vein walls, causing the swollen, gnarled, and dark appearance typical of varicose veins. Adding pressure to veins in your legs, these pools can result in further valve failure. 

When to worry about varicose veins

For most people, varicose veins aren’t serious. There are treatments to remove the veins, and your body ensures that the integrity of blood flow continues. 

You can, however, develop complications called venous insufficiency. You might find skin becomes itchy and dry near varicose veins. You could experience minor bleeding or develop skin ulcers. A blood clot condition called thrombophlebitis might affect the superficial veins you see through the skin. 

You also have an increased risk of developing deep vein thrombosis. Veins far below the surface can suffer from failing valves too, and pooled blood may clot in your lower legs or thighs. When a clot breaks loose and travels through the body to the lungs, you could develop a pulmonary embolism, a medical and life-threatening medical emergency. 

While chances are good that your varicose veins are primarily an aesthetic problem, checking with us at ARK Cardiovascular is an excellent way to deal with appearance issues and check for signs of complications before health consequences emerge. 

You can request an appointment online or by phone with any of our four locations. Keep your legs working and looking great by scheduling a consultation today.