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Varicose Vein Risks More Real Than You Would Think

In considering varicose vein risks complications can often be dismissed as almost inconsequential. Often reflected in public hospital waiting lists.  Years of waiting extrapolating to never being seen.

Yet there are significant risks that need to be considered.  Even those that seem relatively minor can result in long term disability.

Varicose vein risks alert with large varicosities

The interplay of other health conditions can magnify and accelerate these.

While I have covered problems with pain, bleeding, ulcers and surface clots, there are other important aspects I need to cover.

These fall into four distinct areas - all important.

Deep Venous Thrombosis Risks

On the first there has been some some debate as to its reality or importance. 

That is the risk of DVTs, or deep vein clots, with existing varicose veins.

A number of early studies have suggested there was definitely an increased risk of such problems. 

Later literature searches attempting an overview of everything published suggested there might not be a link. 

Interestingly there were six studies only that this paper considered fitted its search.  Out of all the multiple ones on varicose veins over decades.

A more recent study using doctors in general practice still found a significant difference with an increased risk of DVT in people with varicose veins.

When I covered the connection of surface clots with varicose veins, I did mention how this can progress to the deeper venous system.

With serious complications like pulmonary embolus.  With its attendant threat to life and long term disability.  

I will be covering this in more detail with further information on DVTs.


Poorly nourished tissue such as occurs with varicose disease is more at risk of developing surface infection.  Normal blood and tissue borne defences are reduced in their capacity by deficient nutritional supply.

Cellulitis, a spreading infection of the skin, can occur more readily. 

If delayed in treatment more aggressive management with intravenous antibiotics is often required. 

Lymphatic Problems

Apart from the simple risk of spreading infection, varicose veins can affect the related lymphatic system.

Those working in lymphology say that even four years with varicose veins will begin compromising lymphatics. 

Usually this is through scarring the conducting system.

Varicose vein risks with lymphatic problems complicated by lipodermatosclerosisLipodermatosclerosis and atrophe blanche

Longer term skin changes such as eczema and lipodermatosclerosis will directly affect lymphatic flow.

The inflammation and scarring with the tissues just under the skin will constrict the natural lymph pathways at this level.

Swelling below such affected areas will occur more readily. 

The more severe problems of chronic lymphoedema can ensue.  These can be a nightmare for the sufferer to cope with.  There are not many helpful options. 

Yes there are things that can be done. 

But they do not tend to be curative.  They are inconvenient requiring ongoing compliance. 

I will cover this more specifically, along with some additional helpful management techniques on further pages.

Beyond this, tissue compromised by lymphatic problems is more at risk of cellulitis as I discussed above.

Varicose Vein Risks And Diabetes

Then there is the big hairy problem of diabetes.  Due to its increasing prevalence, this should probably the greatest cause for concern in varicose vein risks.

Both varicose veins and the much more common diabetes form of type II increase with age.  Severity also increases with age.

Skin thickness decreases with age. 

Immobility for many reasons is also more common over time.

The combinations spell real trouble down the line.

All have a impact on risks for poor healing and infection. Therefore ulcers and cellulitis are much more likely when you combine diabetes with varicose veins.

Diabetes impairs healing rates by itself. 

Any loss of sensation with the progressive neuropathy that can occur will increase tissue injury risks. 

Poor foot care raises problems with infection and tissue damage.

Well managed type II diabetes will obviously not be of such great concern. 

But varicose vein risks are massively increased with not so well controlled diabetes whether it be type I or II.

My advice to those with diabetes and varicose veins is to treat the vein problems early.  Then keep them controlled.

At least you are then dealing with essentially one problem.  Rather than two compounding ones.

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