Occasionally, varicose veins can form a painful blood clot with inflammation of the vein, a condition called thrombophlebitis.
Varicose veins, a vascular disease that causes swollen, twisted veins, affect up to 35 percent of the American population. They are usually found in the legs, but can appear elsewhere on the body. Also known as venous insufficiency, varicose veins occur when damaged veins have trouble sending blood from the legs to the heart.
There are a lot of myths out there about this condition. We talked to Kathleen Gibson, MD, vascular surgeon and vein specialist of Lake Washington Vascular, Bellevue, WA, to get the real deal:
Dr. Gibson: Varicose veins can be just a cosmetic issue in some circumstances. However, they can also cause throbbing, aching, and itching. Advanced cases cause swelling (particularly with prolonged standing and sitting), dermatitis, and thickened skin. End stages can cause open sores but most patients do not get to that stage. Only 10 percent of patients go on to have advanced complications from varicose veins.
Dr. Gibson: Not true. It would be impossible to prove. What do cause varicose veins are heredity, and pregnancy, especially repeated pregnancies. In patients that already have varicose veins, obesity or weight gain can make them worse. Although they are more prevalent in people who are older and female, they can also occur in males and younger people.
Thanks to less invasive procedures, varicose veins can generally be treated on an outpatient basis.