What Happens If I Ignore My Abnormal Veins?

What Happens If I Ignore My Abnormal Veins?

This is a common question that often comes up at the end of a consultation when a patient finds out that treatment for their abnormal veins may be more involved than they originally imagined. This question also arises when patients are informed that every medical procedure has specific risks even though those risks may be infrequent.

Neglecting abnormal veins will result in the problem becoming worse with more and more symptoms occurring over time. Most people understand this since they have seen this happening on their own legs. Some of the less known consequences of ignoring the problem include ulcers of the skin that usually occur just above the ankle, or thickened, brown, and discolored skin in that area. Other problems are bleeding from these veins and sometimes blood clots in varicose veins which are called thrombophlebitis or “phlebitis” for short.

For the remainder of this article, I would like to concentrate on the problem of ulceration or sores of the skin caused by abnormal veins. It is estimated that 400,000- 500,000 people in this country suffer from this problem and that 1% of the population of industrialized countries will develop a venous ulcer.

The mainstay of treatment for this problem is the faithful wearing of support stockings. A common problem world wide is noncompliance with the proper compression stockings necessary to treat the ulcer. The reason for the noncompliance is clear. The plain fact is that people hate wearing tight, thick, and hot stockings every day. Some feel they were not worthwhile.

Compliance is defined as: The extent to which a person’s behavior (medically speaking) coincides with medical or health advice. Education and proper care by the physician is critical in handling this complex medical problem. In a Cochrane review, which is based on the most stringent scientific evidence available, the type of dressing beneath the compression has not been shown to affect the ulcer healing.

In conclusion, proper compression with support stockings is the basis for care for healing venous ulcers. It is important to seek out advice and help from an experienced specialist in venous disease since most of these ulcers are based on chronic venous insufficiency.

About The Author

Dr. John Happel

Dr. John Happel has been in practice as a surgeon since 1986 in the Pittsburgh region. He specializes in vascular surgery and has subspecialized in the treatment of varicose and spider veins since 1999. Dr. Happel is board certified in vascular surgery and recertified in vascular surgery in 2012. He was chosen in 1985 to fulfill the position for the vascular surgical fellowship at the world renowned Mayo Clinic.