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varicose veins

Most of us identify varicose veins as those bulging, twisted, blueish veins commonly seen on the legs, or other areas. Are you certain that varicose veins are always visible? Can it be present without you being able to see them?

Is it possible to have hidden varicose veins?

The answer is yes, you can have varicose veins and you may not see them. 

It is estimated that around 20 – 30% of world’s population suffer from varicose veins. It is also estimated that an equal proportion of adults have hidden varicose veins.

However, this should not scare you. In fact, the early symptoms of varicose veins are not the visible veins on your legs. There are signs and symptoms that warn you about their presence, and if you are mindful of those and get yourself checked by a vein specialist, you should be fine. So, watch out for other signs and symptoms of vein diseases besides visible bulging veins. 

When Varicose veins occur within the deeper veins of the legs, it may not be visible on the surface of the skin. These hidden veins are mostly accompanied by the same symptoms as surface veins.

Symptoms of hidden varicose veins

Your legs might have vein insufficiency problems and yet may appear normal. However, few symptoms exist which if left untreated might lead to more health complications.

  • Leg swelling and heaviness
  • Skin turns shiny and thin, sometimes have a darker, almost bruised appearance
  • Dry and itchy skin
  • Slow healing uncomfortable sores o the skin
  • Cramping and discomfort
  • Pain, and restless legs.

Why hidden varicose veins are dangerous?

Though varicose veins are largely harmless, it is possible for blood clots to form at the site of a deep varicose vein. As clots are formed, the blood flow is stagnated preventing the flow back to the heart and starts to pool in the body especially the legs. 

Blood clots that form in the deep veins are dangerous as they can travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, causing a potentially life-threatening condition – a ‘pulmonary embolism.’

Diagnosing hidden varicose veins

Doctors generally recommend a duplex ultrasound scan to detect Vein problems. 

Vascular experts say that visible varicose veins are just the tip of the iceberg. An ultrasound performed by a vascular sonographer checks and confirms everything else especially how the smaller veins just beneath the skin are fed by faults in the bigger, deeper veins.

What treatments are available for varicose veins?

Surgical vein stripping and ligation is no longer the preferred treatment for vein problems. 

Modern treatments are broadly divided into thermal (which involve heat) and non-thermal (which involve chemicals like sclerosants and glue). Minimally invasive techniques like Sclerotherapy, Radiofrequency ablation, endovenous thermal ablation, and medical glue therapy offer best outcomes and compared to traditional stripping method have lower complications, and recurrence rates and faster recovery. 

To conclude, vascular doctors consider varicose veins as a tangible sign of vein disease. Very often it is a precursor to major complications and risks and should consequently, never be ignored. 

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