May 14

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When Can Vein Problems Cause Swelling?

By Dr. Jose Almeida

May 14, 2021


The symptom of swelling seems to go hand in hand with vein disease, but what is swelling and why do vascular problems cause swelling? Swelling is a buildup of excess fluid in the body, in the case of vascular disease, the excess fluid is blood that accumulates in the veins. 

#1 When weak veins allow blood to pool

Veins are thin-walled tubes that move blood back toward the heart. Veins rely on valves and the muscles in the body to help move the blood toward the heart and prevent backflow. When the valves in the veins malfunction, by not closing properly, this allows for blood to accumulate within the vein, stretching the veins.

As pressure increases in the vein from excess blood, the liquid portion of the blood moves out of the vein, to an area of lower pressure, into the surrounding body tissues. This movement of fluid out of the vein and into the tissues creates the swollen legs in vascular disease. 

Important things to remember:

  • Valves malfunction and do not close
  • Blood accumulates in the veins
  • The excess blood moves into the body tissue
  • The body area swells

"The two most common vascular diseases that cause swelling are varicose veins and venous insufficiency. "

#2 Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen, gnarled veins that appear on the skin surface, which is usually a result of malfunctioning valves. Swelling of the legs is common in varicose veins, particularly through the course of the day. Most people with varicose veins complain of heaviness and cramping.

Video: Symptoms of Varicose Veins

#3 Venous Insufficiency

Venous insufficiency occurs when veins are weak and unable to circulate the blood, which leads to accumulation of blood, increased pressure in the vein, and movement of fluid from the blood to the surrounding body tissues. Learn more about chronic venous insufficiency here: https://www.miamivein.com/chronic-venous-insufficiency/

Side Effects of Chronic Swelling

venous disease can lead to leg ulcers

Chronic swelling from varicose veins and vascular disease can lead to other complications, such as skin discoloration and ulcers. Skin discoloration occurs when high pressure in the surrounding tissue causes the smallest of blood vessels, the capillaries to rupture, which releases blood cells. The iron that makes up the red blood cells and helps to carry oxygen to the body then accumulates in the skin, causing a brown discoloration. The excess fluid in the tissues prevents the skin from receiving adequate nutrition, leading to ulcerations in the skin or poor healing wounds, even from small cuts or abrasions on the skin.

Treating Swelling in the Legs caused by Vein Disease

If you have vascular disease and swelling in the legs, treating the underlying cause of your vascular disease and treating the swelling in the legs can reduce complications such as skin discoloration, poor healing wounds, and ulcerations.

Book an In-Office or Online Appointment at The Miami Vein Center

If you feel you may have venous disease, then book a consultation with a board certified vascular surgeon. Dr. Jose Almeida is a expert in venous health and a board certified vascular surgeon in Miami, FL. Call us today.

Dr. Jose Almeida

About the author

Dr. Jose Almeida, MD, FACS, RPVI, RVT is a veteran academic vascular surgeon who practices Endovascular Venous Surgery in Miami, FL. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery in both Vascular Surgery and General Surgery.

Request a Consultation with the Vein Experts at Miami Vein Center.