Your veins transport deoxygenated blood from your body back to your heart. They’re not indestructible, though, so it’s no surprise that sometimes they sustain damage. To that end, you should know the signs of vein damage, so you can get medical help when needed. Without treatment, vein damage can lead to significant and even life-threatening consequences.
Interventional radiologist Dr. Dev Batra at Dallas Vein Institute, with locations in Dallas and Hurst, Texas, knows veins inside and out, and he’s a strong believer in patient education. That’s why he wants to discuss the seven signs of vein damage, so you can be informed and take action when you need to.
Vein disease progresses in stages. If it isn’t treated, vein disease can become a chronic issue. The seven signs of vein damage include:
If the walls of your veins weaken, or if the internal valves become damaged, blood won’t flow back to the heart effectively. Instead, it becomes sluggish and pools around the weakened or damaged area.
If the issue isn’t treated, it becomes chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), affecting about 40% of adults in the United States. Sluggish blood flow can lead to many problems since the tissue doesn’t get the nutrients it needs. Some signs include leg pain, swelling, or slow-healing leg ulcers.
These widened veins form due to CVI and increased pressure on the vein walls, showing up in patterns similar to a spider’s web on the skin’s surface.
Spider veins form due to small surface veins, but they can give way to varicose veins as the pressure on the walls grows. These large, colored, and protruding veins on the skin’s surface may be mostly a cosmetic issue, but they can also produce pain, swelling, itchiness, and an aching heaviness in the legs. In addition, they can lead to deep vein thrombosis, which is a significant medical issue.
Varicose veins affect surface veins, but DVT affects veins deep in the leg tissue. If blood flow is sluggish, it’s more prone to clotting. If a clot forms in the deep veins and breaks free, it can travel to the lungs, where it may become lodged in the airway and cause a life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE).
If the pressure on the vein walls continues, the veins begin to leak blood into the tissues, causing swelling — or edema — in the area around the weak point. That can lead to itchiness and additional discomfort as debris builds up.
If you don’t treat the edema, the skin’s appearance begins to change. Most notably, you’ll see a brown or red discoloration on the lower legs and ankles. The skin also becomes scaly, shiny, and thickened, and you may notice some scarring.
Venous ulcers are a consequence of vein disease. These open sores on the lower legs or ankles are surrounded by discolored or hardened skin. They’re slow to heal and can easily become infected. While the sore may be relatively painless, you may experience pain from the underlying edema or infection.
Venous ulcers are especially problematic for people with diabetes, who may have lost sensation in their lower limbs (peripheral neuropathy) and may not be aware of the severity of their condition. More than 80% of diabetic lower-limb amputations start with venous ulcers.
If you have any of the signs of vein damage, it’s time to come into Dallas Vein Institute for a consultation with Dr. Batra. Give us a call at either of our locations or book online with us today.