Long-Term Complications of Untreated Varicose Veins

About one in five adults will get varicose veins at some point in their lives. Though varicose veins are common, it is important to have them treated right away to avoid complications. Many of today’s treatments for varicose veins are minimally invasive and relatively quick and can effectively reduce symptoms.

Here’s a closer look at common long-term vein complications and how to request a consultation with North Shore Vein Center for varicose vein treatment.

Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition in which damaged veins in the legs prevent blood from flowing back to the heart. It can be caused by a wide range of factors, including obesity, lack of exercise, and varicose veins.

Symptoms of CVI include:

  • Swelling in the legs or ankles
  • Itching legs
  • Cramping in the legs
  • Discoloration in the legs
  • Feeling of heaviness in the legs

CVI isn’t usually life-threatening, though it can cause severe pain and discomfort when not treated.

Deep-Vein Thrombosis

Varicose veins are a risk factor for DVT.

Deep-vein thrombosis (DVT) is a condition that occurs when a blood clot forms in a deep vein, usually in the leg or thigh. This condition is serious and life-threatening, given how the blood clot can break free at any time and travel to the lungs to cause a blockage in the lungs known as pulmonary embolism (PE). In some instances, PE can cause difficulty breathing, irregular heart rate, and death.

Signs and symptoms of DVT in the legs include:

  • ​​Swelling in the leg
  • Pain and tenderness in the leg
  • Redness


Thrombophlebitis is a condition in which a vein becomes swollen or inflamed. Its primary cause is usually a blood clot that forms in a varicose vein. This condition tends to affect deep, large veins located near the surface of the skin.

Common symptoms of thrombophlebitis include:

  • Swelling in the affected part of the leg
  • Redness
  • Pain in the leg
  • Warmth and tenderness over the vein

Venous Ulcers

An ulcer is an open skin sore. A venous ulcer is an ulcer that develops on the leg due to poor circulation in a vein, usually in a varicose vein. These open sores will heal slowly or not at all due to a lack of blood flow to the area.

Over time, an ulcer can lead to a serious infection called gangrene, which is the death of body tissue due to lack of blood flow. Gangrene can eventually lead to loss of the affected limb, or amputation, which is why seeking immediate treatment for an ulcer is highly important.

Symptoms of a venous ulcer include:

  • Swelling and cramping in the leg
  • Feeling of heaviness or tiredness in the leg
  • Itching and tingling in the leg
  • Redness or discoloration

Varicose veins should be treated promptly to reduce the risk of serious vein complications, including DVT and ulcers. Many vein treatments are minimally invasive and can be safely and quickly performed in an outpatient setting without producing downtime. A vein specialist can examine spider veins and varicose veins to determine their severity and discuss available treatment options.

North Shore Vein Center offers vein treatments, including sclerotherapy, endovenous laser ablation, and more. If you need treatment for spider veins or varicose veins, contact North Shore Vein Center today at (516) 869-8346 to request an initial vein consultation.