Varicose veins, which are veins that bulge and become visible through the surface of the skin, affect up to 35% of Americans. Many people think they can ignore the veins, dismissing them as merely unsightly, but not dangerous. But here’s the thing: while the veins themselves don’t cause serious medical issues, their appearance could be a sign of bigger problems brewing beneath the surface of your skin.
Valves and Veins
Veins are blood vessels that return blood back to your heart from other parts of your body. Your veins contain a series of valves that are supposed to open and close easily, helping your body fight gravity to push blood up towards the heart.
Sometimes, those valves don’t work well, and the blood travel suffers—flowing backwards or pooling in your legs and feet. When that condition sets in, you are experiencing something called venous insufficiency. As it turns out, varicose veins can actually be a symptom of venous insufficiency: the pooling blood is what causes your veins to bulge, as they become overwhelmed.
Signs of A Problem
Varicose veins are a visible symptom of venous insufficiency, which is why they are helpful indicators. Other symptoms of this condition include chronic leg swelling, especially swelling that gets worse throughout the day; heavy legs; and, surprisingly, pelvic pain.
Why is it important to identify and treat venous insuffiency? The answer is this: with this condition, varicose veins are just the tip of the iceberg. In severe cases, VI can cause you to develop a deep vein thrombosis ( a clot that forms in the veins deep in your legs.) A DVT is a medical emergency, because if it breaks loose from your leg veins, it could travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism) and threaten your life.
Treating Your Varicose Veins
Many times, our Houston vein specialists are able to diagnose VI because a patient seeks treatment for varicose veins.
Thankfully, many varicose veins can be treated quickly, with minimally invasive procedures. And the opportunity to diagnose a bigger, potentially life-threatening problem? Worth every moment of a so-called cosmetic consultation!