When veins become varicose they are distinguishable by their unsightly, bulging, and sometimes painful structures that appear just below the surface of the skin. Often caused by faulty or damaged valves, they occur when blood is allowed to pool or collect in the area rather than to pass or flow through.
Varicose veins are a very common problem in the US with almost 1 in 4 Americans being affected at some stage. Given the commonality of the issue and their close proximity to the surface of the skin, it’s understandable that one of the most frequently asked questions that a vein specialist will receive is “can varicose veins rupture?”
Firstly, in answer to the question…Yes, varicose veins can rupture very easily!
The truth is that a nick from shaving or a bump against a table leg can be enough to result in spontaneous and (in many cases) excessive bleeding. When it occurs, it can be quite a serious complication and one that usually requires speedy medical attention.
So what should you do if you are faced with a ruptured vein?
The first thing to remember is that veins tend to carry more blood than smaller capillaries. As a result, bleeding can be quite profuse. This in itself can be extremely alarming but try not to panic and stay calm.
Instead, the main task is to stem the flow of blood. Firstly, look to cover the area with a towel or gauze pad and apply gentle pressure to the area with your fingers. Normally the problem vein is located in the leg, so while applying pressure, it’s vital that you elevate the limb above your heart. Once bleeding has slowed, where possible and keeping the leg elevated, wrap an elastic bandage around the vein. Then get yourself to an emergency clinic or vein center.
At the emergency center
In most cases, by the time the patient reaches the emergency room, the flow of blood has subsided and after inspecting the area, it is normally patched up and an appointment is made to see a vein specialist usually the very next day.
At the vein center
When the patient visits the vein center following an emergency room visit the specialist would normally carry out a technique known as a duplex venous ultrasound. Using this technique it allows the specialist to locate what is known as the refluxing saphenous vein. This is the vein connected to the problematic surface structures. Then depending upon the circumstances, the vein specialist will tailor a treatment plan based on your needs. This may include treatments such as:
- A thermal vein ablation (the obliteration of the vein using heat) or
- A micropleblectomy (the removal of the vein through micro-surgery)
Patients are also given instructions on how to manage any bleeding should it occur again.
So now you know what to do in the event of a ruptured varicose vein, how to deal with it and what to expect, it’s worth considering just why varicose veins rupture in the first place…
Situated within the veins are tiny valves or flaps which are designed to counter the force of gravity and pump the blood from limb extremities such as the legs, back to the heart. Unfortunately, values can weaken due to age, being overweight and a whole host of other reasons. When this happens, gravity will dictate that the blood pools or collects within the vein and is what causes the noticeably bulging effect that varicose veins have.
Often as blood pressure builds, veins can burst, and all it takes is s slight knock, nick or bump to kick-start the problem. The further the veins are from the heart, the more prone they are to rupture. Hence varicose veins located in the lower leg and ankle are at greatest risk.
In some instances, varicose veins may burst internally, so you’ll see no blood, but you may experience excessive bruising around the area. In addition, you may also start to feel somewhat weak or dizzy. This being the case, you should call 911 and seek immediate attention.
A permanent solution for varicose veins
In reality, the only permanent solution for varicose veins is one of a number of minimally invasive surgical and non-surgical techniques. Here at the Midwest Institute for Non-Surgical Therapy (MINT), we use the latest and comfortable non-surgical techniques to eradicate varicose veins which allow you to become problem-free, without the constant worry of varicose vein rupture. To find out more, call Dr. Akinwande on 314 255 2204 and book a consultation today!