Like many illnesses or conditions a system of staging is used to assess the severity of varicose veins and this then assists in providing the most appropriate treatment.
There are eight stages, the first and best being "C0" where there are no visible signs and "C6" the worst where ulcers have formed. Other stages include "C2" indicating that varicose veins are visible and C4a means that skin discoloration and dryness has occurred.
Complication of Varicose Veins if left Untreated
In general the majority of people do not develop varicose vein complications and if they do develop it is usually several years after they first appear.
The reason that varicose veins can cause complications is because they stop blood from flowing properly. Listed below are some of these complications:
Varicose eczema - Varicose eczema may cause the skin to become inflamed and itchy. Sometimes blisters may occur and the skin will flake.
Bleeding - Due to the skin becoming thinner a small knock to a varicose vein which has formed near the surface of your skin easily bleed and may be difficult to stop. The best way of stopping the bleeding is to position your leg so it is above your chest. You should then apply pressure to the area. Should the bleeding continue then it would be advisable to seek help.
Lipodermatosclerosis - Lipodermatosclerosis causes skin to become hardened and tight, the condition is most common in the calf area.
Chronic venous insufficiency - is where the way that the skin interacting with the blood is affected by the faulty valves therefore stopping or interfering with the blood flow. Chronic venous insufficiency can sometimes cause other conditions to develop such as venous ulcers.
Ulcers may develop because of increased pressure in the veins in the lower limbs. This can allow fluid to seep from the vein and it collects under the skin. Over time the fluid causes thickening of the skin and the area swells and eventually will break down into an ulcer. The ankle is the most common area for this to occur. These ulcers can be treated but it is advisable to see a doctor as soon as possible.
The majority of varicose veins do not need treatment and those that do will not require any substantial medical treatment. However, should the condition start to deteriorate then it is wise to see a doctor and ascertain what treatment would be best for you. The sooner that this is done the easier it is to rectify. This will provide a better prognosis and mean that your quality of life will be improved.
There are consequences of leaving varicose veins untreated and complications, although rare, can occur.
Research has shown that untreated varicose veins where the skin has ulcerated may increase the risk of cancer.
In the elderly, particularly, the skin has thinned to such as extent that following a small knock bleeding can be excessive. This is even more the case if a person is on steroid drugs which themselves cause the skin to thin.
The clotting of blood may also cause problems, especially for deep veins. The clotted area can move and get trapped in other parts of the body such as the heart, lungs or brain resulting in serious medical conditions such as heart attacks or strokes.
In general varicose veins do not present a serious health problem in the majority of people.