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The Stages Of Varicose Veins

Those enlarged and twisted veins that you see on your legs and feet are known as varicose veins. They are usually purple or dark blue in color. Varicose veins can cause pain and discomfort, and some other symptoms.

The Stages Of Varicose Veins

The Stages Of Varicose Veins

If not treated, varicose veins can progress and lead to complications and severe health issues.

Understanding the Stages of Varicose Veins Progression

Varicose veins are a progressive condition. If left untreated, it can progress into severe health complications. Understanding the various stages of varicose veins is important. This will help you know the right treatment to use for effective management.

Each stage of varicose veins presents unique symptoms that require different treatment approaches.

Prevalence of Varicose Veins

An estimated 23% of the adult population in the United States have varicose veins. Globally, about 2%–73% of the population have varicose veins.

Examination of Each Stages of Varicose Veins

Each of the stages of varicose veins includes:

Stage 1: Vein Swelling

The first stage of varicose veins doesn’t appear physically. This means that you won’t see the bulged veins on your skin. The reason why the veins don’t bulge out is because the valves inside of the legs have just been affected.

At this stage, you may experience symptoms such as pain, tenderness, cramps, burning sensation, itching, swelling, or heaviness in your legs. The frequency of these symptoms may increase as time goes on. This stage may require medications to relieve pain and discomfort.

Stage 2: Crawling or Spider-Like Veins

In stage 2, crawling or spider-like veins appear. The veins appear blue or purple in color and are visible just beneath the surface of the skin. Spider-like veins typically do not cause any discomfort but some people may experience pain, burning sensation, or mild itching.

There are various treatment options for spider-like veins. A common treatment option is sclerotherapy. This procedure involves injecting a solution into the affected veins. The veins then close off and fade over time. Another treatment option is laser therapy. This procedure uses a focused beam of light to target and destroy the affected varicose veins.

Stage 3: Enlarged or Swollen Veins (Varicosities)

In stage 3, the affected veins have become enlarged, turning into full-blown varicose veins. Symptoms such as pain and discomfort, aches, swollen legs, throbbing sensation, or a heavy feeling in your legs are typically experienced.

There may be changes in the skin around the varicose veins, such as the skin turning darker or thicker.

Treatment options at this stage depend on the severity of the varicose veins. Compression stockings might be recommended in mild cases to improve blood flow and reduce swelling, while medical interventions may be recommended in severe cases. Sclerotherapy or endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) may be used to close off the affected vein.

Stage 4: Edema and Leg Fatigue

Edema is swelling in the legs and ankles due to the accumulation of excess fluid in the tissues in the legs and ankles. When varicose veins are not timely treated, they can lead to edema. Symptoms of edema include pain, numbness, tenderness, itching, tightness in the legs, heaviness, and muscle cramps.

Most people with edema find it difficult to walk or stand for long periods of time.

Medical interventions are usually required at this stage. There are various treatment options available, including exercise and weight management and the use of compression stockings to improve circulation and reduce swelling.

Stage 5: Ankles Changes

At this stage, the ankles will get swollen and change color. Ankle changes are caused by edema. Symptoms such as pain, itching and burning sensation will increase. Symptoms are more severe after standing for long periods of time.

Treatment options at this stage are usually the same as the treatment options for stage 4. Medications may be prescribed to relieve pain and discomfort.

Stage 6: Skin Changes

In this stage, the skin changes significantly. Skin changes occur due to prolonged edema and poor circulation which results in blood leaking from the blood vessels into the skin tissue. In this stage, the skin has a leathery texture and brownish in color. The skin may also become reddish in color, flaky, and itchy.

Treatment at this stage depends on the severity and symptoms. Compression stockings and other interventions will be used to improve circulation and reduce skin changes.

Stage 7: Ulcers on the Legs or Ankles

This is the worst and most severe stage of varicose veins. In this stage, the skin tissue dies, leading to cracks in the skin and bleeding. Ulcers or open wounds (venous ulcers) form on the legs or around the ankles.

Venous ulcers are non-healing wounds. This means that they take a long time to heal. Symptoms of venous ulcers include swelling, aching, itchy skin, hardened skin, and discharge with foul odor. If venous ulcers become infected, it can cause cellulitis, a potentially life-threatening condition.

Treatment for venous ulcers typically involves managing the wound and the underlying cause of the ulcers. The wound will be properly cleaned and bandaged to aid circulation and healing. Antibiotics may be prescribed to prevent infection and aid healing.

Compression bandages or stockings may be recommended to improve blood flow and aid healing. Painkillers may be prescribed to reduce pain and discomfort. Lifestyle changes may be recommended to aid the circulation and healing of the wound.

Being Tall May Be a Risk Factor for Varicose Veins

Being tall doesn’t typically put you at risk for varicose veins, provided you’re not overweight or obese. If you’re tall and have an ideal body weight, your body will not put pressure on your legs. Your body will only put pressure on your legs if you’re tall and overweight.

Preventative Measures and Lifestyle Adjustments

There are measures that you can take to prevent or reduce your risk of developing varicose veins.

Preventative Measures and Lifestyle Adjustments

Preventative Measures and Lifestyle Adjustments

These include:

Manage your weight

Being overweight or obese is a risk factor for varicose veins. Reduce your weight and maintain an ideal body weight by exercising and eating healthy diets.

Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time

You should avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time to aid circulation. If your work entails sitting or standing for long periods, take breaks and move around to aid circulation.

Elevate your legs

When lying down, elevate your legs above heart level to encourage blood flow back to your heart. The veins work against gravity to push blood upwards to the heart. You help the veins to push blood upwards by elevating your legs above your heart level.

Engage in regular exercise.

Engaging in regular exercise and physical activity can help promote better blood circulation and improve the health of your veins. Engage in exercises that involve moving your legs, like walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water daily to stay hydrated. Staying hydrated helps to maintain healthy blood viscosity and improve circulation.

Quit smoking

Smoking can damage the veins and negatively impact blood circulation. You should quit smoking if you smoke.

Wear comfortable footwear

Avoid tight footwear and wear comfortable ones to help improve circulation.

Wear compression stockings

Compression stockings can help aid circulation in your legs.


What is the difference between varicose and spider veins?

Both varicose and spider veins are damaged veins. They occur when the valves in the veins get weakened or damaged. Spider veins are very tiny veins and are smaller than varicose veins. They are mild forms of varicose veins.

They appear blue or purple in colour. They are visible just beneath the surface of the skin and typically do not cause any discomfort.

Varicose veins are larger than spider veins. They are enlarged veins that appear twisted and darkish-blue or purple in colour. Varicose veins often present symptoms such as pain, throbbing or burning sensation, ache, swelling, muscle cramps, and heaviness in the legs.

Where are varicose veins usually located?

Varicose veins are usually located in the legs and feet.

Why do varicose veins occur?

Varicose veins occur due to weakness or damage of the one-way valves in the legs which results in the inability of the veins to push blood upwards from the legs to the heart. As a result, the blood pools in the veins in the legs, making the veins bulge and enlarge.

Can varicose veins be prevented?

Varicose veins can’t entirely be prevented, especially if you have an inherited risk factor or you’re pregnant. However, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing varicose veins by following all the preventative measures enumerated above.

Can varicose veins go down?

Varicose veins are a progressive condition. You can prevent varicose veins from increasing in size by getting timely and appropriate treatments.

Can you live a long life with varicose veins?

Varicose veins are not typically life-threatening. You can still live as long as you’re supposed to with varicose veins. However, varicose veins can progress to more severe complications such as venous ulcers if not treated. You should seek timely treatment to prevent your varicose veins from getting worse.

When are varicose veins serious?

Varicose veins are serious when you begin to experience severe symptoms such as increased pain and swelling, edema, and venous ulcer.

Why Autumn Is the Best Time to Treat Varicose Veins

It is much easier to see varicose during cooler weather or seasons like autumn. Varicose veins show up more clearly in the cooler weather, making it easier to identify and treat.

Ready to take control of your vascular health? Call Southwest Wound Care in Lubbock, TX

Varicose veins are quite common and require medical interventions. We always recommend that you seek treatment from a reputable medical center that specializes in providing treatments for vascular diseases and conditions like varicose veins.

Ready to take control of your vascular health?

Ready to take control of your vascular health?

This is why we encourage you to visit us at Southwest Wound Care Center in Lubbock, TX. We specialize in providing appropriate treatments for various vascular diseases and conditions like varicose veins. You can be sure that you’re in the best hands when you visit us.

Contact us today or book an appointment to get back your vascular health.