June 9, 2023

11 Complications of Untreated Varicose Veins You Should Know

Discover the potential complications of untreated varicose veins and learn how to prevent them from progressing with our practical tips.

In this article, we will explore 11 complications associated with untreated varicose veins, providing essential insights and practical tips to prevent their progression.

Do varicose veins get worse if untreated?

If you've been noticing or developing varicose veins on your legs, it's important to understand the potential consequences and very serious health risks of leaving them untreated. Varicose veins can indeed worsen over time if not properly addressed and may lead to very serious health risks and complications.

Not treating varicose veins may lead to more serious complications as the disease progresses

What happens if varicose veins are left untreated?

Skin discoloration

When varicose veins are left untreated, a range of complications can arise, including pain, swelling, spontaneous bleeding, deep vein clots, skin changes, venous ulcers, and an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Below, we will delve into the specifics of what happens when leaving varicose veins untreated, providing a comprehensive understanding of the potential consequences.

What are the complications associated with untreated varicose veins?

Leg pain and discomfort
  1. Pain and discomfort: Increased pain and discomfort may escalate, which can not only hinder daily activities but also disrupt sleep patterns.
  2. Prolonged symptoms: Untreated varicose veins may lead to swelling, aching, heaviness, and fatigue in the legs.
  3. Persistent leg swelling: Leg swelling is an uncomfortable side effect and may hinder daily activities.
  4. Leg fatigue: Leg fatigue can make it difficult to engage in physical activities and cause discomfort throughout the day.
  5. Heavy legs: A persistent sensation of heavy legs can make movement feel burdensome and affect daily mobility, especially after sitting or standing for prolonged periods.
  6. Blood clots (Deep Vein Thrombosis): Untreated varicose veins can lead to serious health complications such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a potentially life-threatening issue characterized by blood clot formation in the deep veins of the legs. Seeking timely treatment for varicose veins can help reduce the risk of DVT and its associated complications.
  7. Burst and bleeding: Untreated varicose veins can be prone to bursting and bleeding, especially when subjected to pressure or injury.
  8. Venous leg ulcers or open wounds: Untreated varicose veins can lead to the development of venous ulcers and open wounds. These chronic wounds can be painful, slow to heal, and may require specialized care and treatment to promote healing and prevent complications.
  9. Skin discoloration: Untreated varicose veins can result in skin discoloration on the legs, often appearing as dark patches or a reddish-brown hue.
  10. Pulmonary embolism: Untreated varicose veins can increase the risk of developing a potentially life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism. This occurs when a deep blood clot forms in the veins and travels to the lungs, causing blockage and impairing proper oxygenation.
  11. Superficial thrombophlebitis: Untreated varicose veins can contribute to the development of superficial thrombophlebitis, a condition characterized by inflammation and blood clot formation in the superficial veins.

Can untreated varicose veins cause leg loss?

Varicose veins legs

Untreated varicose veins do not typically lead to leg loss. While they can cause discomfort, pain, and cosmetic concerns, they are not generally a direct cause of leg loss.

However, it's important to note that when severe varicose veins occur can lead to complications that may require medical intervention.

If left untreated and complications arise, they can potentially affect the overall health and function of the leg. Prompt medical attention is advised for severe cases of varicose veins or when complications arise.

Are untreated varicose veins life-threatening?

Untreated varicose veins, in most cases, are not immediately life-threatening. While they can cause pain, and discomfort, and affect daily life, severe complications can arise if left untreated.

It is important to note that while life-threatening complications are possible, they are relatively rare. Most individuals with varicose veins can manage their condition effectively through various treatment options, lifestyle changes, and self-care measures.

How do you stop varicose veins from spreading?

stretching exercises

Preventing the spread of varicose veins requires managing underlying causes and promoting healthy circulation. Below are some practical tips and techniques to slow spreading or worsening.

  • Regular exercise plays a vital role in preventing varicose veins from spreading by improving blood flow, strengthening leg muscles, and reducing venous insufficiency.
  • Weight loss can help slow spreading by reducing pressure on the veins, improving circulation, and alleviating strain on the lower extremities.
  • Implementing lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding prolonged sitting or standing, and elevating the legs periodically, can effectively prevent varicose veins from spreading by promoting optimal vein health and circulation.
  • Wearing compression stockings help prevent varicose veins from spreading, as they provide gentle pressure to support proper blood flow, reduce swelling, and alleviate uncomfortable symptoms.
  • Seeking medical treatment, such as radiofrequency ablation or sclerotherapy, can help to slow spreading by addressing underlying issues, improving circulation, and reducing the risk of complications.

When should you have vein surgery for varicose veins?

vein surgery for varicose veins

The decision to undergo surgery for varicose veins depends on various factors and should be made in consultation with a healthcare professional or vein specialist.

Generally, surgery may be considered when treating varicose veins that are causing painful symptoms, discomfort, or complications, or when conservative measures have proven ineffective in managing the symptoms.

When to worry about varicose veins?

When it comes to varicose veins, it's important to know when to pay attention and seek medical assistance, to avoid potential major health risks.

Whether it's the presence of uncomfortable symptoms such as pain, swelling, ulcers, or other alarming but common risk factors alone, understanding when to worry about varicose veins will empower you to take proactive steps toward proper evaluation and treatment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you leave varicose veins untreated?

While you can technically leave varicose veins untreated, it is not advisable. Seeking appropriate treatment is crucial to alleviate symptoms, prevent complications, and improve overall vein health.

Can severe varicose veins be treated?

Yes, severe varicose veins can be treated. There are several treatment options available depending on the severity of the condition, including minimally invasive treatments like radiofrequency ablation (RFA), sclerotherapy, as well as surgical interventions.

Can you live a long life with varicose veins?

Yes, you can live a long life with varicose veins. However, it is important to manage and treat varicose veins to prevent complications and improve quality of life.

Seeking appropriate medical treatments, adopting a healthy lifestyle, and following recommended self-care measures can help alleviate symptoms and minimize most serious health risks and problems.

What is the difference between a varicose vein and spider veins?

Varicose veins are larger, bulging veins that can be painful and uncomfortable, whereas spider veins are smaller blood vessels, closer to the skin's surface. Varicose veins are typically a result of underlying venous diseases, such as chronic venous insufficiency, while spider veins are mainly just a cosmetic concern.

How to know if I have a blood clot in varicose veins?

Common signs of a blood clot, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT), may include pain, swelling, warmth, redness, and tenderness in the most affected vein area. Other warning signs can be sudden leg heaviness, skin discoloration, or visible knots in the veins.

What are Stage 5 varicose veins?

Stage 5 varicose veins refer to a severe and advanced stage of venous disease requiring appropriate evaluation and treatment options. At this stage, the veins are significantly enlarged, twisted, and bulging, causing chronic pain, swelling, skin changes, and potential health complications such as ulcers.


Leaving varicose veins untreated can lead to a range of complications, so it's important to recognize the potential risks and seek timely treatment to alleviate symptoms, improve vein health, and prevent further complications and health problems.

Don't let varicose veins develop and go untreated—prioritize your vascular well-being for a healthier, more comfortable life, and contact Vein Envy today!


See what patients had to say about their treatment at Vein Envy

Do you suffer from the symptoms of vein disease? Find out how these patients solved CVI with venous treatments.

"Dr. Jones is great"

patient testimonial rating

Dr. Jones and his staff are great !  I had treatment on both legs and the staff was very professional. The  procedures on my legs turned out great!


Cynthia R.

"I'm happy with my results"

patient testimonial rating

The staff and the doctor are very friendly and professional. I was happy with my results and will be going back as needed.


Julia P.

“I highly recommend him”

patient testimonial rating

I was very happy with the professional staff at the front office.  They answered my questions and were very welcoming. I am happy to be here.


Donna A.

"This is the place to be"

patient testimonial rating

Doctor and staff amazing! They are working thru 17 veins I needed done. This team makes you feel like family. This is the place to be.


Omar M.

"Group of friendly people"

patient testimonial rating

The experience of being treated at vein Envy is very professional very good group of people very friendly I would recommend this for anybody.


Janis K.

"This office is amazing"

patient testimonial rating

This office is amazing! Every person is very welcoming, pleasant,  professional and helpful. They made my experience one I’ll never forget!


Cassi O.

ToP Rated Arizona Vein Clinic

Get In Touch Today

Ready to schedule your vein consultation?

patient testimonial rating

Come in for a consultation with our top rated vein specialists. Chronic venous insufficiency is a medical condition covered by insurance. We have 5 convenient locations in Arizona.

phone icon
(623) 233-1050
Your message has been submitted.
I will get back to you within 24-48 hours.
Oops! Something went wrong.
Office locations

5 Vein Clinics Located In Arizona

Call any location to schedule your appointment.

arizona state flag

Litchfield Park, AZ

14044 W. Camelback Rd Ste 226
Litchfield Park, AZ 85374
(623) 233-1050(map)
arizona state flag

Surprise, AZ.

13991 W Grand Ave Ste 102
Surprise, AZ 85374
(623) 233-1050(map)
arizona state flag

Phoenix, AZ

20040 North 19th Ave. Suite D
Phoenix, AZ 85027
(623) 233 - 1050(map)
arizona state flag

Ahwatukee Foothills, AZ

4545 E. Chandler Blvd. Suite 202
Phoenix, AZ 85048
(623) 233 - 1050(map)
arizona state flag

Mesa, AZ

130 S. 63rd St. Suite 101
Mesa AZ. 85206
(623) 233 - 1050(map)