closeup of two legs with varicose veins

Varicose Veins: Are They Just a Cosmetic Problem?

Now that the weather is starting to warm up and become “shorts & t-shirt” weather, it’s around this time of year where I start to get a lot of questions about varicose veins. For a long time, these had mostly been considered just a cosmetic problem, however, new research over the past decade has shown a link to deeper issues – particularly deep vein thrombosis.

What is Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)?

Deep vein thrombosis occurs when a blood clot forms in the deep veins in your body, away from the surface of the skin. These clots typically occur in the legs but can also form in the arms as well. While DVT itself is not a life-threatening condition, there is always the risk of the blood clot breaking free and moving into the lungs, causing a pulmonary embolism. If this were to happen, it would require immediate emergency medical care.

What is the Link Between Varicose Veins and DVT?

While the majority of patients with varicose veins won’t experience any significant problems, a recent study has shown a link between varicose veins and DVT. The study examined more than 425,000 adults, with a 50/50 split of patients with varicose veins and patients without varicose veins. Over the course of 7 years, it was shown that adult patients with varicose veins were 5x more likely to develop DVT.

What Are the Warning Signs of DVT?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), symptoms of DVT are present in only about half of the people who have this condition, making it difficult to self-diagnose. Symptoms can include unexpected cramping or throbbing, unexplained pain in your foot and ankle, skin that feels warmer to the touch than surrounding areas, swelling in your foot, ankle, or leg, as well as skin discoloration in those areas.

How Should You Treat Varicose Veins and DVT?

If your varicose veins are causing you pain or discomfort, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor and discuss the different treatment options. The longer you wait, the more severe your vein problems can become and the more your varicose veins can grow.