Are Varicose Veins Dangerous? This is What You Need to Know

Posted February 11, 2020 by in Health + Fitness
view of legs wrapped in sheet

About 30 million adults have varicose veins. Even though these veins can be unsightly and embarrassing, sometimes we have to ask the question: are varicose veins dangerous? 

Sometimes it’s hard to tell if these types of veins are seriously problematic or just frustrating during swimsuit season. Either way, it’s best to investigate and make sure some veins won’t cause serious health issues.

But how do you know which veins to worry about and which ones to leave alone? In this article, we’ll explore more about varicose veins and what you need to know: 

varicose veins

What Are Varicose Veins?

If you were to peek underneath your skin, you would likely find smooth flowing veins. For those with varicose veins, however, these veins are twisted and bulging, which is why they can be seen and felt. Any veins can become varicose veins, but they’re most likely to occur in the legs. 

In short, there are two basic types of varicose veins:

Spider Veins

Spider veins are significantly smaller than varicose veins. They are a thinner shape (think the shape of a spider’s web) and rarely cause any serious problems or pain. Generally speaking, they can be treated fairly easily.

Moderate to Intense Varicose Veins

These types of varicose veins are the ones that are very noticeable, painful, and may pose health problems. They are much wider than spider veins and are almost always blue or purplish. 

Some of the symptoms that stem from varicose veins are:

  • Swelling
  • Pain or aching in the legs
  • Itching
  • Throbbing
  • Cramping

If you have varicose veins and experience these symptoms frequently, contact your doctor to see if you need to be evaluated.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

Your veins and arteries are the highways that carry the blood throughout your body. These veins and arteries have valves that help move the blood in the correct direction. When these valves weaken, the blood cannot move well or may become clotted.

Many things cause the valves to work incorrectly:

  1. Pregnancy

Pregnancy causes your blood volume to increase, which can put more pressure on the valves. 

  1. Obesity

Any extra weight you put on will add more pressure in your veins and arteries. 

  1. Gender

In general, women tend to get varicose veins more than men, but men are still at risk if they’re inactive. 

  1. Activity

Sitting or standing for prolonged periods does not move the blood sufficiently throughout your body. This can be remedied by frequent exercise. 

  1. Hereditary

Chances are, if people in your immediate family suffer from varicose veins, you will as well. 

  1. Age

As you age, the valves in your veins and arteries naturally weaken even with the right diet and exercise. 

Are Varicose Veins Dangerous?

While spider veins are unlikely to cause any problems, severe varicose veins may cause other health issues. Here are some problems that can arise and make varicose veins dangerous:

Infections

When the veins press against the skin, it makes the skin to stretch. Because of this, it can allow bacteria to enter the skin and cause infections. 

Ulcers

Ulcers from varicose veins? Varicose veins can lead to sores on the legs which can take several weeks to heal. They will typically occur around the ankle area. 

Bleeding

The bulging of the veins is caused by an excess of blood, and if an injury occurs to that site, there may be more bleeding than normal. There’s also a greater possibility of bruising. 

Thrombophlebitis

Thrombophlebitis is a condition in which blood clots form in the veins. These can form near the skin or deeper within the vein.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Deep vein thrombosis or DVT, is an extremely serious medical condition and the patient needs to see a doctor as soon as possible. CVT happens when a blood clot that’s developed deep in the vein may detach and travel throughout the body. 

Is There Treatment For Varicose Veins? 

While it seems reasonable to get treatment for your varicose veins for cosmetic reasons, it might be wise to consider treatments for varicose veins to avoid potential health problems. Here are a few popular treatments available for varicose veins:

Laser treatment involves using light to diminish discoloration.

Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure in which your doctor injects the veins with a solution that destroys the veins. Sclerotherapy is very effective. 

Vein stripping is more invasive, however, it is an outpatient procedure. Doctors work to remove the vein from the body without disturbing your circulation.

Vein surgery is needed when you develop leg ulcers. Doctors go in through the vein using a small camera and close the veins. Surgery is a last resort if other methods of treatment don’t work. 

Once your doctor diagnosis you with varicose veins, they will suggest a type of treatment that they believe is right for you. 

Ways to Prevent Varicose Veins

Overall, there’s no guaranteed way to stop varicose veins from happening, especially if they’re hereditary. But there are practical ways you try and keep them from causing problems.

Keeping a healthy weight by exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet will go a long way in preventing the seriousness of varicose veins. Make sure you’re moving and elevating your legs to encourage blood flow. 

If you already have budding varicose veins, try wearing compression stockings which increase blood flow more efficiently. 


Are varicose veins dangerous? They can be. The best course of action is to speak with your doctor if you’re experiencing pain from your veins and find the relief you’re looking for before they become a larger problem. 

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