Varicose veins can cause complications because they stop your blood from flowing properly. Most people who have varicose veins will not develop any complications, but if you do, it will usually be several years after your varicose veins first appear.
Some of the possible complications of varicose veins are explained below.
Varicose veins may lead to a condition called superficial thrombophlebitis (THROM-bo-fleh-BI-tis). Thrombophlebitis is a blood clot in a vein. Superficial thrombophlebitis means that the blood clot occurs in a vein close to the surface of the skin. This type of blood clot may cause pain and other problems in the affected area.
Thrombophlebitis is inflammation (swelling) of the veins in your leg which is caused by blood clots forming in the vein. This can occur within your varicose veins and it can:
When thrombophlebitis occurs in one of the superficial veins in your leg it is known as superficial thrombophlebitis. A superficial vein is a vein that is located just under the surface of your skin.
Thrombophlebitis can be treated with compression stockings (see Varicose veins - Treatment). In some cases, painkillers, such as paracetamol, may be prescribed.
Varicose veins that form near the surface of your skin can sometimes bleed if you cut or bump your leg. The bleeding may be difficult to stop. You should lie down, raise your leg and apply direct pressure to the wound. Seek immediate medical advice if this does not stop the bleeding.
If the blood in your veins does not flow properly, it can interfere with the way that your skin exchanges oxygen, nutrients and waste products with your blood. If the exchange is disrupted over a long period of time it is known as chronic venous insufficiency.
Varicose eczema is a condition that causes your skin to become red, scaly and flaky. You may also develop blisters and crusting of your skin.
Lipodermatosclerosis causes your skin to become hardened and tight, and you may find that it turns a red or brown colour. The condition usually affects the calf area.
A venous ulcer develops when there is increased pressure in the veins of your lower leg. This causes fluid to seep from your vein and collect under the skin. The fluid can cause the skin to thicken, swell and to eventually break down to form an ulcer. Venous ulcers most commonly form in the ankle area.