Bleeding Varicose Veins

What are Bleeding Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted due to damaged valves in the veins. Varicose veins may cause complications like painful ulcers, blood clots, and bleeding under the skin or on the surface of the skin.

Valves in the veins help return blood from the vein to the heart. If these valves are damaged, blood flows backward and backs up into the veins. This causes increased pressure within the veins, which causes the veins to become larger. Varicose veins are normally found in the legs.

What are the causes?

This condition may be caused by:

  • Thinning and stretching of the skin that covers the varicose veins (hypoplasia).
  • Weak, thinning vein walls.
  • High blood pressure in the veins, due to backup of blood that normally flows back to the heart.
  • A growth in the pelvis (pelvic mass) that affects the veins in the legs.
  • Taking medicines that thin the blood. These medicines may include aspirin, anti-inflammatory medicine, and other blood thinners.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Blood clots, especially in deep veins (thrombophlebitis).
  • Marfan syndrome and other conditions that affect connective tissues.

What increases the risk?

This condition is more likely to develop in people who:

  • Have a family history of varicose veins.
  • Are on their feet a lot.
  • Are pregnant or have had a previous pregnancy.
  • Are overweight.
  • Use birth control pills (oral contraceptives).
  • Have an inactive (sedentary) lifestyle.

What are the signs or symptoms?

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Bleeding on the outside surface of the skin near the veins.
  • Bleeding under the skin. This looks like blue or purple discoloration in the skin that spreads beyond the veins.
  • Burning pain.
  • Itchy and aching legs.
  • Heaviness, fatigue, and cramps in the legs, especially after long periods of standing, wearing tight clothing, or being in a hot climate.
  • Severe skin dryness (varicose eczema).

How is this diagnosed?

This condition may be diagnosed based on:

  • A physical exam that involves inspecting and feeling your enlarged veins and legs.
  • Your medical history and overall health, including whether you have recently injured the area near the varicose veins.
  • Your symptoms, including when you first noticed any bleeding or pain.
  • Duplex ultrasound. This test uses sound waves to produce images and measure blood flow through the veins.

How is this treated?

Treatment may include:

  • Raising (elevating) your leg above the level of your heart.
  • Stopping bleeding and swelling by applying pressure (compression) to the area. This may be done by wearing an elastic bandage or compression stockings.
  • Applying an antibiotic cream to any open sores.
  • Exercising regularly and losing weight, if necessary.
  • Having a procedure to close off or remove bleeding varicose veins using one of the following methods:
    • Injecting a solution into veins that causes blood to clot and eventually causes the veins to fade (sclerotherapy).
    • Using a laser to apply heat to the vein and close it off (laser treatment).
    • Using an electrical current produced by radio waves to close off the vein (radiofrequency vein ablation).
    • Removing the vein through small incisions made over the vein (phlebectomy).
    • Tying the vein and removing it through incisions made over the vein (vein ligation and stripping).
    • Piercing the veins using minimally invasive surgery (subfascial endoscopic perforator vein surgery), in advanced cases.

Follow these instructions at home:


  • Take and use over-the-counter and prescription medicines and creams only as told by your health care provider.
  • If you were prescribed an antibiotic cream, apply it as told by your health care provider.Do notstop using the cream even if your condition improves.


  • Avoid smoking.
  • Exercise regularly, as directed by your health care provider.

If directed, work with your health care provider to lose weight.

General instructions

  • Wear compression stockings, elastic bandages, or any wraps as directed by your health care provider. Make sure you know how often and how long you should wear them.
  • Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. If you need to sit or stand for a long time, move around often to maintain blood flow (circulation).
  • Elevate your legs above the level of your heart several times a day, or as often as directed. To do this, lie down with your leg propped up on a pillow or cushion so that your foot is above heart level. Doing this regularly can help prevent more bleeding from developing.
  • Check your skin every day for new sores and signs of bleeding.
  • Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes and tight clothing, especially around your limbs and waist.
  • Be careful in situations where you could cut your legs, such as when shaving or gardening. This can help prevent bleeding.

Contact a health care provider if:

  • Your veins bleed above or under your skin. Bleeding under the skin looks like purple or blue discoloration.
  • You develop new sores or a rash near your varicose veins.
  • You have a sore that does not heal, gets infected, or gets bigger.
  • You have pain that gets worse.
  • The area around a varicose vein becomes warm, red, or tender to the touch.
  • You have bad-smelling, yellowish fluid coming from a spot where there was bleeding.
  • You have a fever.

Get help right away if:

  • You have chest pain.
  • You have trouble breathing.
  • You have severe leg pain.
  • Your legs and feet are turning blue or black.
  • Your legs swell and harden.


  • Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and twisted due to damaged valves in the veins. They may bleed under the skin or on the surface of the skin.
  • Treatment may include lifestyle changes, elevating your legs, wearing compression stockings, and having certain procedures.
  • You should exercise regularly, maintain a healthy weight, and avoid smoking.
  • Check your skin every day for new sores, signs of bleeding, or other problems.

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