Are My Rope-Like Varicose Veins Dangerous to My Health?

Jan 10, 2024
 Are My Rope-Like Varicose Veins Dangerous to My Health?
For some, varicose veins are a cosmetic problem affecting your legs. Sometimes, though, varicose veins can cause discomfort and pain. In rare instances, these failing blood vessels can accompany serious threats to your health.

For many people, varicose veins are a cosmetic problem. The dark, gnarled veins show through the skin of your legs. Sometimes, though, varicose veins can cause discomfort and pain. In rare instances, these failing blood vessels can accompany serious threats to your health. 

Though it’s unlikely that your rope-like veins are a medical issue, Dr. Enrique Hernandez at Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins in Miami, Florida, recommends that you seek a full evaluation with our office. 

Venous insufficiency can cause complications, making varicose veins a potential warning sign. Come see the experts for an assessment as well as cosmetic treatment for your varicose veins. 

Reasons behind varicose veins

While any vein close to the surface of your skin could become varicosed, the veins of your legs tend to suffer the most. Because you spend your days largely upright, the pressure on vein walls in your lower body is high. 

Since veins return blood to your heart and lungs, blood flow fights gravity when you’re not lying down. To aid this one-way movement, veins have a series of valves that prevent backward flow of blood. However, the pressure on leg vein walls can cause these valves to fail. 

When venous valves allow backflow, blood pools and pressure stretches vein walls even further, causing the swollen and discolored ropes we know as varicose veins. You may be at risk of developing varicose veins for one or more of the following reasons: 

  • Age: Wear-and-tear takes a toll on vein valves
  • Genetics: Varicose veins can run in families
  • Gender: Women’s hormonal events can relax vein walls
  • Being overweight: Carrying extra pounds adds to venous pressure

A sedentary lifestyle also increases your risk. Movement helps pump blood through your veins, so sitting or standing in one position for long periods eliminates this benefit

It’s common for people to have more than one risk factor for venous insufficiency, so you may not know precisely why varicose veins form. 

Accompanying symptoms

Varicose veins often carry no symptoms other than their appearance, but it’s not always the case. Some of the symptoms that can arise because of the veins include: 

  • Pain that gets worse after sitting or standing for an extended time
  • Itchiness around the bulging veins
  • Changing skin color
  • Burning or throbbing sensations in your legs
  • Muscle cramps in the calves
  • Swelling in the ankles and lower legs
  • Heavy, aching legs

Even if you have some of these symptoms, your varicose veins may not be a threat to your health. 

Dangerous complications of varicose veins

Though you’re not likely to develop dangerous complications, it’s possible, and they can be significant enough that anyone with varicose veins should be fully evaluated to assure the problem is exclusively cosmetic. Potential complications of varicose veins include: 


Varicose veins can sometimes burst and bleed through the skin. While there’s typically little blood released, the situation requires prompt medical attention. 


Painful sores that form near varicose veins, usually around the ankles, ulcers tend to follow skin discolorations in the area. These can be slow to heal due to poor circulation, so see us about treatment for these wounds. 

Blood clots

The most dangerous complications of varicose veins are blood clots. These form in deep leg veins, but sometimes severe varicose veins result from the same venous insufficiency that leads to deep vein thrombosis. 

If a blood clot breaks loose and travels to the lungs, you could develop a pulmonary embolism, a potentially deadly medical emergency. 

Be sure your varicose veins are cosmetic and don’t have lurking health threats associated with them. Schedule an evaluation with Advanced Vascular Cardiac & Veins by phone or request your appointment online today.