Varicose veins

Prognosis of Varicose veins

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Although varicose veins and venous insufficiency are chronic diseases, their prognosis is essentially benign in the great majority of cases, even without intervention. However, good self-care is especially important in order to decrease the discomfort, complications, and progression.

Acute complications

  • Bleeding by the varicose veins. It occurs due to the rupture of a varicose vein towards the exterior, and sometimes, caused by a small trauma or sometimes without one. The bleeding may be abundant, although it is not usually serious, and usually stops with the raising of the leg and compression over the bleeding point.
  • Varicophlebitis or thrombosis of varicose veins. It is the formation of a clot within a vein and causes reddening of the skin, as well as hardened, hot, significant pain, itchiness and swelling. In the majority of cases it is not serious and is resolved with anti-inflammatory treatment; but if the thrombosis is near a deep vein it may require long-term anticoagulant treatment.
  • Skin infections or cellulitis. They occur in patients with fragile skin on scratching, or over previously ulcerated areas. The area infected will be painful and will be inflamed, red and hot. They usually require oral antibiotic treatment.

Chronic complications

  • Darkening of the skin. Red or brown coloured stains may appear, origination from the deposit of hemosiderin (a derivative of the haemoglobin of the red cells). It is typically located in sloping areas, particularly in the ankles. In more advanced phases, skin changes may appear due to nutrients being unable to reach the area and dry and scaly pitting of the skin occurs, and occasionally, intense itching.
  • Varicose ulcers. They may appear on scratching the skin, due to small traumas, or spontaneously. They normally appear on the inner side of the ankles. They are quite painful, easily infected, usually difficult to heal, and may require specialised management, in order to indicate a better care, as well as to study and correct the cause that triggers them.

Substantiated information by:

Esther Armans
Xavier Yugueros

Published: 19 June 2018
Updated: 19 June 2018

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