What is the outlook for people with varicose veins?

Usually, varicose veins are not dangerous and don’t cause long-term health problems. Most people with the condition are concerned with the way varicose veins look. They may experience discomfort but don’t develop complications.

What are the complications of varicose veins?

Varicose veins can cause ulcers (open sores), bleeding and skin discoloration if left untreated. Severe varicose veins may be a sign of chronic venous insufficiency. This condition affects the veins’ ability to pump blood to the heart.

People who have varicose veins may be more likely to develop blood clots. It’s important to tell your healthcare provider about varicose veins. Your provider should evaluate and monitor you for clotting disorders such as:

  • Superficial thrombophlebitis: Blood clots can form inside varicose veins, causing a condition called superficial venous thrombosis or superficial thrombophlebitis. Thrombophlebitis is painful but isn’t usually dangerous. It is treatable.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): People with varicose veins have a higher risk of deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot in a vein deep inside the body.
  • Pulmonary embolism: A blood clot in the body (usually resulting from DVT) can become lodged in the lung. Pulmonary embolism is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate treatment.

Do varicose veins return after treatment?

Although treatments are effective, varicose veins can return. They are more likely to come back in women who become pregnant after treatment. You have a higher chance of varicose veins reappearing if you are overweight or have a sedentary lifestyle.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 10/13/2020.

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