What about blood clots?

By Dr. Cohen

The most common concern my patients express is about blood clots (thrombosis). Either having one or getting one after their treatments. Since you’re reading this, it’s probably a concern of yours too. So let me tell you more than you probably want to know.

First of all, there are many kinds of “blood clots”. It’s the blood clots in the arteries that can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Varicose vein problems and the treatments for them have no impact on your risk of these types of arterial blood clots. The blood clots that occur in veins are the ones that you should know about as you consider treatment.

  • These clots generally fall into two categories, based on location.
    “Deep veins clots” are in the muscle part of the leg – these are the important veins.
    “Superficial vein clots” are in the skin veins which are not critical but can cause varicose and spider veins.

Clots that form in a deep vein are called a “deep vein thrombosis” (DVT), DVT often occurs after immobility from illness, major surgical procedures, leg fractures, knee or hip surgery, a variety of chronic medical illnesses, or some congenital blood clotting abnormalities.

Patients typically experience a fairly sudden onset of swelling, pain, and redness of the leg. What’s important to recognize is that this swelling typically includes the whole ankle or calf, not just a localized “lump” under the skin. (“Lumps” are much more likely a superficial vein clot, called “superficial phlebitis” which I’ll discuss in a minute.)

The danger of DVT is twofold: 1) If it doesn’t completely dissolve or damages the vein valves, it can lead to a chronic, and difficult-to-treat condition known as “post-phlebitic syndrome.” 2) If the clot breaks off and travels to the lungs, a pulmonary embolus can be life threatening.

DVT is typically treated immediately with blood thinners and compression stockings to dissolve the clot and reduce the risk of it enlarging or moving. It takes time so blood thinners are usually continued for 3-6 months.

The good news is that the problems of people who suffer from varicose veins or “venous insufficiency” are almost always confined to the superficial veins. So while it is good to know about DVT, it probably isn’t something you need to worry about.

Clots that do occur in people with varicose vein problems are generally clots in the skin veins, called “superficial phlebitis”. Superficial phlebitis can occur spontaneously in a varicose vein or after a vein treatment. Symptoms are a sudden onset of a painful, hard, lumpy vein under skin, which is usually red, warm, and tender to touch.

If you have superficial phlebitis there is very little to worry about. Treatment is anti-inflammatories (like ibuprofen), compression stockings, and lots of walking. The pain and redness usually goes away in about a week, although the lump may take a month or more to gradually shrink.

You can arrange for a quick and easy consultation right now by calling 201-265-5300.

About us: There are 20 million Americans with vein problems that can seriously affect the quality of their lives. And as we age, they just get worse. As one of the few New Jersey medical practices committed exclusively to vein care, Advanced Vascular Vein Care is uniquely capable of alleviating those problems, whether they are medical or cosmetic. All treatments are non-surgical, usually covered by insurance, and delivered in an office setting. And we do it as it should be done – with compassion, excellence, affordability, convenience, and the personal touch. Call 201-265-5300 or visit AdvancedVascular.com for a quick and easy consultation.

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