Medically Reviewed by Gabor A. Winkler, MD
Vein problems in your legs can begin relatively early in life. On the surface, they can be painful and unappealing. Yet, according to McLeod Vascular Specialist Gabor Winkler, problems in your deeper veins are much more serious.
Here are key points from Dr. Winkler’s comments:
The main symptoms of vein disease start in many people in their early 20s – sometimes even sooner. Chronic swelling of the legs and ankles, especially toward the end of the day, is something that you should keep an eye out for. Pain, when standing for prolonged periods of time, is common. As is any kind of discoloration in the veins. Increased visibility of veins near the surface is a sign of a problem.
In general, if there are no other symptoms, it’s mainly a cosmetic problem. In many patients, it tends to get worse, eventually developing symptoms. Any type of hardening of the veins that you can see on the skin surface could be worrisome and reflect thrombophlebitis. Chronic discoloration of the skin, especially around the ankle area, where the skin appears darker or more brown than usual, can become the final stage before skin breaks down into a hard-to-heal wound
Superficial venous thrombophlebitis is essentially a fancy term that means blood clot in the veins near the surface. We have both the superficial (near the surface) veins and deep veins. If a clot forms in the deeper veins, it is called a Deep Venous Thrombosis or DVT.
The clot in the deep vein can break off and travel to the lungs as a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. If a clot forms in the superficial veins, there is a very low risk of those clots traveling anywhere. It just causes a localized inflammation at that point, which can be very painful.
In essence, superficial thrombophlebitis is less dangerous but more uncomfortable than Deep Vein Thrombosis. In general, Deep Vein Thrombosis requires some sort of medical treatment with a blood- thinning agent. Superficial Thrombophlebitis generally does not require blood-thinning medication. However, it usually requires some kind of anti-inflammatory medication. In extreme cases, surgery may be needed.
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