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Is It Safe to Travel with Painful Varicose Veins?

 Is It Safe to Travel with Painful Varicose Veins?

When the one-way valves inside a vein become weak or dysfunctional, your blood doesn’t flow through that vein as efficiently as it should. Instead, it builds up behind the problematic valves and exerts pressure on the vessel wall. 

Over time, this continuous pressure can turn the affected section of vein varicose, leaving it abnormally twisted, contorted, dilated, and bulging. Unless they’re painful or cause other bothersome symptoms, however, varicose veins are primarily treated as a cosmetic concern. 

But varicose veins — whether they’re painful or not — can present problems the longer you have them. Here, our team of board-certified vein specialists answers a question we hear all the time at Vascular Vein Centers: Is it safe to travel with painful varicose veins? 

A common form of vein disease

As one of the most common consequences of venous disease damage, varicose veins affect millions of US adults. By some estimates, as many as one in two Americans can expect to develop these twisted clusters of bluish-purple veins at some point in their lives.

You’re more likely to develop varicose veins if: 

Varicose veins typically develop in the lower extremities, often emerging on the thighs, behind the knees, or along the calves, ankles, or feet. This is because lower-extremity vein valves are under more pressure (working against gravity) to keep blood flowing in the right direction.   

When varicose veins are painful

Varicose veins generally aren’t harmful, and they don’t — by themselves — pose a serious health threat. Even so, they can become problematic over time, triggering irritating symptoms and increasing your chances of developing more serious circulatory issues. 

Painful varicose veins may indicate persistent inflammation caused by elevated pressure in your veins. Signs of worsening vein problems, which should be evaluated as soon as possible, include wearisome leg heaviness, chronic leg swelling, and noticeable skin changes

Varicose veins and blood clot risk 

Whether or not they cause irritating symptoms, varicose veins are a risk factor for a serious form of venous disease known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or a blood clot that forms in one of your body’s deep veins. 

A DVT blood clot isn’t harmful if it stays put, but it can be life-threatening if it breaks free and travels to your lungs, where it may cause a dangerous pulmonary embolism (PE) that requires emergency medical attention.  

Protect yourself when you travel

Research shows that people with varicose veins are more than five times as likely to develop DVT than those without varicose veins. This risk is significantly compounded by long-distance travel, which is a major DVT risk factor on its own.  

Long-distance travel raises your DVT risk simply because you’re more likely to develop a blood clot in a deep vein when you sit still in confined spaces for long stretches (four hours or longer), regardless of whether you’re traveling by plane, car, bus, or train. This risk is most significant for people who have other prominent DVT risk factors, like varicose veins.   

Other substantial DVT risk factors include having a known clotting disorder or a family history of blood clots, older age (60+), obesity, a recent surgery, a current or recent pregnancy, and use of hormonal (estrogen) birth control or hormone replacement therapy.  

There are several ways to protect against DVT and make your travels safer:

The more risk factors you have for DVT, the more important it becomes to talk with our team about taking extra precautions while you travel, such as taking prescription blood thinners or wearing graduated compression stockings.  

Schedule a vein evaluation today

Whether your varicose veins cause a dull, aching pain most of the time or tend to bother you mostly after you’ve been sitting or standing for long stretches, it’s a good idea to come see us for a comprehensive evaluation.

Here at Vascular Vein Centers, we’re pleased to provide IAC accredited diagnostic ultrasound imaging labs at every location. This means we can evaluate blood flow, assess vascular damage, check for clots, and develop a targeted treatment plan to protect your health.  

If you’d like to have a varicose vein evaluation, we can help. Give us a call today, or use our online booking feature to schedule a visit at your nearest Vascular Vein Centers office any time. We have six locations in Orlando, Waterford Lakes of East Orlando, Kissimmee, Lake Mary, The Villages, and Davenport/Haines City, Florida. 

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