Although often considered just a cosmetic problem, varicose veins reflect chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), a potentially serious condition. Tissues need normal venous drainage as well as normal arterial flow. Anything that interferes with either one can lead to symptoms and tissue damage.
Once varicose veins appear or significant symptoms develop, patients should have an evaluation that includes a detailed ultrasound examination. Symptoms do not always correlate with the severity of the problem. It is especially important to seek treatment if there is any sign of skin damage, because once it occurs it is often irreversible.
Fortunately for most people serious complications from chronic venous insufficiency take a long time to develop. Complications generally correlated with the duration and severity of the problem. The bad news is that disease severity can only be assessed reliably with ultrasound examination.
Common Myths About Vein Disorders
- The problem is chronic and difficult to treat (it is not!)
- The problem is more cosmetic than a physiologic (not for most patients!)
- Leg pain cannot be due to venous insufficiency (it can!)