Bleeding from Veins
Bleeding from Veins
What happens when varicose veins burst? Spontaneous and sudden bleeding from a vein is known as phleborrhagia. Veins can burst and rupture when they become enlarged and weakened. This is especially common when the surrounding skin has experienced an injury or becomes softer, such as during a hot shower or bath.
Normal veins have a low pressure, unlike arteries that experience high pressures to deliver oxygen-rich blood to your body. When someone has varicose veins, the veins enlarge due to weakened and dysfunctional valves. The enlarged veins grow in size, and the pressure keeps going up. Some veins have pressures almost equal to the arteries, especially those veins near your feet and ankles. Life-threatening bleeding may occur in veins under these high pressures and cause blood to squirt, much like an artery would. This bleeding can, understandably, cause much concern and alarm for individuals and their families. To treat a vein that is bleeding, basic first aid is involved:
- Hold pressure over the area of bleeding with your finger or hand
- Elevate leg higher than the heart
These instructions, while simple, can be difficult to implement at times. Anyone trying to hold pressure on their leg that’s bleeding, while simultaneously getting their leg up over their head will attest to that difficulty.
If the bleeding does not stop with the above measures then medical attention should be sought right away.
Spider Veins can bleed too
Spider veins are not immune to rupturing and bleeding. It is important to follow the basic first aid to get the bleeding to stop. Once the bleeding is under control, seeking the medical expertise of a vein specialist can help prevent recurrence.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if the bleeding is from a spider vein or a varicose vein by physical examination only. When this happens, we check to ensure there aren’t any underlying varicose veins feeding into the patchwork of spider veins by performing an ultrasound. If varicose veins are present, we proceed with varicose vein treatment initially. Once the varicose veins are treated, then treatment of the spider veins can be performed either with sclerotherapy or a dermal laser treatment.
Once the bleeding is under control, the goal is to prevent recurrence. Treatment with ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is one of the best options to prevent recurrence. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is often used in conjunction with endovenous laser ablation to treat the dysfunctional veins that contribute to, and cause, the bleeding.
What are the next steps?
If you, or someone you know, has experienced bleeding from a vein it is important to get it checked out by a vein specialist. Veins that bleed profusely are often under high pressures and therefore more likely to bleed again. Treatment closes those dysfunctional veins down to eliminate future bleeding episodes.