What Should I Do If My Varicose Veins Start to Bleed?

Varicose veins cause a variety of symptoms, including swelling, itching, pain, and skin discoloration. In some cases, they can even bleed.  Bleeding occurs when the veins become so weak that they rupture.  Find out what to do if a varicose vein ruptures and learn about factors that increase your risk of bleeding. 

Steps to Take If Varicose Veins Bleed

You should call 911 if you notice severe bleeding from your varicose veins.  Veins are not under pressure but the wall of varicose veins are not like normal healthy veins.  The walls are thinned and prone to continued bleeding.  Slow down the bleeding by elevating the limb and applying pressure to the site of bleeding.  This can usually stop the bleeding but if the site continues to bleed, you will need to visit the emergency room for a compression dressing and rarely surgical intervention.  After discharge from the hospital, you will need to see a varicose vein specialist.  The specialist can go over treatment options for your varicose veins. 

Signs of Bleeding

It is possible for any of your varicose veins to bleed.  However, the varicose veins at your ankles and lower legs are at the highest risk.  This is because the pressure is the highest in these locations.  If your veins start to bleed, it may start with discoloration under the skin.  This will look like a bruise that seems to be getting larger.  So, be careful when shaving your legs because this disruption of the skin can lead to significant bleeding, which can be dangerous.  This typically happens if there is larger varicose vein with thin overlying skin and a very friable vein wall.  Venous blood is darker than arterial blood and under less pressure but bleeding from one can still result in a messy situation.

Risk Factors That Contribute to Ruptures

There are some risk factors that make varicose veins more likely to rupture.  If you are taking blood thinners, you’re at an increased risk for bleeding.  Spontaneous bleeding from even minor trauma is a possibility when taking blood thinners.  If you are on blood thinners, speak to a varicose vein specialist to ensure you’re on an appropriate dose and how to care for your varicose veins.

Injuries to the skin around varicose veins can also cause bleeding.  Activities like shaving your legs or playing contact sports that can lead to localized trauma to the legs can increase your risk of bleeding from varicose veins.  You run the risk of nicking the vein, causing it to bleed.  So keep close eye on your legs to avoid these preventable events.  

External heat may also increase the risk of spontaneous bleeding.  Heat has the effect of dilating our veins, which may thin the wall even further and increase the risk of bleeding.  Taking a hot shower or bath may also increase your risk of bleeding, so try to avoid long periods of significant heat to your legs.

Go Over Your Treatment Options for Varicose Veins

Dealing with varicose veins is challenging.  The veins can affect your quality of life, especially if you experience episodes of bleeding or ulceration.  Fortunately, there are treatment options available that close off these varicose veins, so you can finally move past the uncomfortable and dangerous events.

Dr. Vinay Madan at the Center for Varicose Veins uses the latest treatment methods for varicose veins. Schedule a consultation to see if you’re a candidate for radiofrequency ablation (RFA), endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), Varithena, or sclerotherapy. 

Author
Dr. Vinay Madan, MD, DABVLM Dr. Vinay Madan, MD, DABVLM Dr. Vinay Madan is a board certified Interventional Radiologist and Phlebologist with over 25 years of experience in treating vein disease. Dr. Madan has served as the Chairman of Radiology and Section Head of Vascular Interventional Radiology at Eastern Connecticut Health Network. Dr. Madan brings a wealth of knowledge which allows him to treat patients with cosmetic and medical vein disease in a caring and compassionate way.

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