Some people may think of varicose veins as just a cosmetic problem when they can at times become a medical issue as well. The abnormally engorged, tourtuous, non-working veins often have damaged or faulty valves in them and they almost surely get worse, not better, without treatment.
The veins carry blood from the body back to the heart in an anti-gravity way. If the veins are varicose they are not working which results in blood pooling in the ankles and leads to changes in the leg and skin.
Often the inner ankles of people with poor circulation start to darken and become hard and wood-like. This is known as lipodermatosclerosis and is a classic sign of venous insuffiency. This all results from the blood not returning properly back towards the heart. While it may be unattractive cosmetically there is a much greater chance of ulceration in the leg. By definition an ulcer is merely a deficit of tissue, be it a stomach ulcer, a bedsore or a venous ulceration.
The area of the ankle known as the gaiter area starts to get the hardening of the skin which makes it less pliable and more prone to breakdown. There is less arterial blood supply and the risk of ulceration goes up. Very often patients don’t actually recall what it was that set off the formation of the ulcer. It can be as little as a minor bump or scratch. The appearance is just as if someone had taken a spoon to the ankle and scooped out an area of skin. It can be painful at times and it most often oozes either blood or bodily fluids.
A longer term problem with leg ulcers is that while they most often do eventually heal, they often leave large areas of scar tissue. While healing is obviously good there is a high risk of further ulceration due to the scar tissue. Dr. Lee G. Shulman M.D. of the Shulman Vein And Laser Centers in Manhattan and Long Island, often points out to patients that a minor scratch in healty tissue is almost always of no consequence, while a scratch in the area of lipodermatosclerosis can often start to ulcerate. The tissue is just that much less healthy and ulcer prone.
If you have varicose veins or worsening spider veins and would like to have a free leg vein screening, you can contact the Shulman Vein And Laser Centers in their NYC or Long Island offices.