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Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Varicose Veins - What Happens

Most varicose veins aren't a serious medical problem, but they sometimes can lead to complications.

Complications can include:

  • Bleeding from a varicose vein, which may occur without an injury or after an injury to the thin skin over the varicose vein. Bleeding can be heavy, but it can be controlled by elevating the leg and applying pressure to the area that is bleeding.
  • Blood clots or inflammation (superficial thrombophlebitis), when a blood clot and inflammation develop in a small vein near the surface of the skin. Unlike blood clots in deep veins, clots in superficial veins rarely travel to the heart or lungs, where they could cause serious blockages.
  • Dry, stretched, swollen, itching, or scaling skin.
  • Thin, fragile, easily injured skin at or above the ankle.
  • Open sores (ulcers), usually near the ankles.
  • Skin color changes (stasis pigmentation) around the ankles and lower legs.
  • Fungal and bacterial infections, which may arise from skin problems resulting from fluid buildup (edema) in the leg and increased risk of tissue infection (cellulitis).

Varicose veins most often are a result of problems in the superficial veins just under the skin. But they can happen along with problems or disease in the deep veins and perforating veins, which connect the deep and the superficial veins. Complications are much more common when varicose veins are caused by or linked with these deeper veins.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: August 17, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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