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Common Complications of Varicose Veins

Varicose Veins,  Common Complications

Most people realize varicose veins are unsightly, but not everyone is aware they can cause serious medical complications if not treated early by a vein specialist. Awareness of potential complications can be the first step in understanding the importance of seeking a vein consultation.  Vein health knowledge helps those affected to appreciate the importance of evaluation and vein treatment.  Eliminating faulty veins can prevent complications and improve overall health.

Most Common Complications

Varicose veins develop when vein valves fail to function properly.  Vein valves are responsible for moving blood upward to the heart/lungs for re-oxygenation.  When these valves become weak or damaged, blood flow slows and even starts to ‘reverse flow’ and begin to pool in the lower legs.  Varicose veins are a symptom of improper venous blood flow and related problems do occur with this ‘reflux’ of blood flow.  Some of the most common complications include:

  • Ulcerations: Ulcers are deeper wounds resulting from an associated refluxing or varicose vein.  Vein Disease can cause skin to become thin and fragile, increasing the incidence of skin ulcers and infections.
  • Eczema: The condition of skin itchiness can occur as a consequence of poor skin circulation related to venous insufficiency (venous reflux) and varicose veins.  This may occur even if there has been no prior eczema elsewhere.
  • Leg cramps and pain: Symptoms associated with varicose veins may be sharp or dull achiness; symptoms usually worsen by day’s end.  Often times, pain is accompanied by ankle swelling and leg fatigue affecting your normal daily activities.
  • Lipodermatosclerosis: As vein disorders advance further more serious skin changes may occur.  Lipodermatosclerosis causes the skin around the varicose veins to thicken, becoming hardened and eventually turn dark brown.  These changes are a result of scar tissue build up.
  • Restless leg syndrome: One of the more annoying complications of venous disorders is this symptom causing an irresistible urge to move the legs.  It very often occurs at rest or while trying to sleep.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis: When blood flow pools in the lower legs, the superficial veins become susceptible to injury and irritation.  This may result in a superficial vein blood clot causing local warmth, tenderness and/or pain  Treatment is important as some blood clots tend to travel, especially if close to the deep venous system where they may migrate and affect larger body organs.

Vein Treatment Can Prevent Complication Occurrence

Minnesota Vein Center in North Oaks has provided vein treatment options for 14 years for patients of the St. Paul/Minneapolis region.  Today, there are more treatment options available.  With the advances in vein medicine and vein treatments/technologies, specific treatment plans and procedure modalities are now available which can be tailored to each patients need.

Prompt vein treatment is the most important measure you can take to prevent varicose vein complications and improve your overall venous circulation.  If you would like more information regarding the vein disorders such as varicose veins and their treatments, call our specialty team at 651-765-8346 at Minnesota Vein Center.

Do High Heels Cause Vein Problems?

female legs below the kneeIn our era of body and health awareness, women and men today, increasingly look for healthy shoe options.  For some though, there is nothing more fun than to shop for that perfect high heel shoe for that office or for an upcoming special events.  Once home, you may think, “wow, does that look great.”

The truth of the matter is, however,  that high heels are not healthy for your legs.  This is because the higher heels  themselves tend to limit the action of the leg muscle pump which moves the blood back to the heart.  Over longer periods of time, due to decreased muscle action, lower extremity blood pressure is increased in the leg.  You can still wear high heels, but do so in moderation especially if you believe you are prone to varicose veins.

This is according to a National Institutes of Health study  that tested 30 women, none of whom had varicose vein symptoms.  The subjects were instructed to do treadmill walking, both barefoot and then in various heel  lengths.  The leg pressures were measured during these exercise studies.

This study found, “The continuous use of high heels tends to provoke venous hypertension in the lower limbs and may represent a causal factor of venous disease symptoms”.

When trying to avoid or prevent varicose veins, shoes are not the only consideration.


While blood flow is altered by wearing high heels, a brisk walk ( in tennis shoes) can tone  leg muscles for maximum efficiency and will help to keep the blood moving.

Maintain a healthy weight

Those populations of people with extra pounds do tend to have a high incidence of varicose veins.

Regularly  varying your work positions; sitting and standing positions

If you job involves standing for long hours, this is not good for vein health.  And if you have been sitting long periods, schedule short breaks to stand and walk around.  Likewise, vary long periods of standing by scheduled sitting and leg elevation if your position permits.

Avoid leg crossing

While few studies have examined the effects of crossed knees and varicose veins, many vein specialists agree that bony knee prominence can place pressure on vessels and potentially affect vein valves and blood return.

Don’t forget, beautiful high heels only in moderation.  Fortunately, flats are stylish today.  If you are concerned about your susceptibility to varicose veins, schedule an appointment with our vein specialist team at Minnesota Vein Center.