When Varicose Veins Are Symptomatic

If you’re one of the 35% of adults with varicose veins, chances are you’re embarrassed by the appearance of these bulgy, ugly veins. But you may not expect to face challenges beyond cosmetic issues.

Many patients who come to Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute didn’t anticipate the pain and discomfort of varicose veins. They also weren’t aware that varicose veins put them at risk for serious health complications in their lower legs.

That’s why our cardiologist, Dr. Laura Fernandes, decided to kick off our blog with information about varicose vein symptoms and what they mean for your overall health.

Let’s talk about common varicose vein symptoms

You may be one of the lucky ones who never have symptoms. Or you might have occasional, mild discomfort. 

For many people, however, varicose veins cause more intense problems, including:

The severity of your symptoms doesn’t always correlate to the size or extent of your veins. One person with a small area of varicose veins may suffer from intense pain or aching, while someone with extensive varicosities could have mild symptoms.

This list also doesn’t include all of the symptoms you can experience. More severe symptoms develop when varicose veins go untreated and the underlying venous problem continues to worsen.

But before we list the advanced symptoms, let’s talk about the underlying cause of varicose veins.

Why you should never ignore varicose veins

The veins in your legs carry blood toward your heart, a difficult job considering the blood must fight against gravity as it travels up your leg. One-way valves in the veins ensure blood goes in one direction, opening to let blood flow up your leg and then closing to stop it from refluxing backward.

When the valves weaken and stop working, blood refluxes and accumulates in the vein. This condition is called chronic venous insufficiency. 

Because chronic venous insufficiency allows more blood to build up, you develop engorged varicose veins. But that’s not all that happens.

Chronic venous insufficiency causes high blood pressure in the vein in your lower leg. Varicose veins are the earliest sign of high venous pressure. If you ignore varicose veins, the ongoing pressure leads to advanced symptoms and serious complications.

Advanced symptoms associated with varicose veins

Without treatment to alleviate the venous pressure, you can develop advanced symptoms, such as:

Stasis dermatitis

High venous pressure damages capillaries and pushes fluids out of the veins in your lower leg. The fluid spreads into the surrounding tissues, leading to an inflammatory skin condition that causes redness, scaling, and itching similar to eczema.

You may also develop a reddish-brown discoloration in your skin. This discoloration, called hyperpigmentation, often appears before the rash and remains after the rash heals.


Lipodermatosclerosis is another skin condition that causes thickened, leathery skin, pain, and inflammation involving your foot and/or lower leg. These symptoms are a sure sign of advanced chronic venous insufficiency.

Venous stasis ulcer

A venous stasis ulcer is the most serious symptom arising from varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. Fluids leaking from the veins make your skin break down. As a result, you develop an ulcer that commonly appears around your ankle.

Venous stasis ulcers don’t heal on their own, and without professional medical treatment, they continue to enlarge as the skin and tissues progressively deteriorate. The longer you have an ulcer, the more likely it is to cause an infection that spreads to your skin and bones.

Treating varicose veins eliminates the underlying problem

When we treat varicose veins, your veins permanently disappear so you can once again show off your legs. Treating the varicose veins also eliminates chronic venous insufficiency and restores normal blood flow.

We offer several minimally invasive varicose vein treatments, including sclerotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and endovenous chemical ablation. We perform these highly effective treatments in the comfort of our office, allowing you to go back to your daily routine afterward.

If you’re ready to do away with varicose veins, relieve leg pain, and prevent advanced symptoms, call Woodlands Heart and Vascular Institute at (832) 210-2319 in The Woodlands, Texas, or request an appointment online.


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