Varicose Veins And Diabetes

The combination of varicose veins and diabetes is a high risk one for skin problems.  Anyone with the combination of the two entities should seek advice and assessment early for their veins.  What is the cause for this concern?

Varicose Vein Effects

With the back pressure from varicose veins on the efficient drainage of old blood from the legs the tissues in the leg, especially the skin and the fatty tissue just under them can become compromised.  As mentioned elsewhere the most common alert for this becoming a significant problem is associated itching.  

Just alone, varicose veins can produce varicose eczema, swelling, long term skin and fatty tissue scarring seen as lipodermatosclerosis and ulcers.

Diabetes Effects

Diabetes mellitus, whether the younger onset type I or the older onset type II, which may not initially require insulin, can have effects on tissues as well.  

Elevated blood glucose levels occurring with diabetes can produce some direct skin changes.  

More commonly changes associated with damage to the nerves and arteries causes more problems.

Nerve Effects

The most frequent nerve effect is a gradual numbness beginning from the furthest point on the limb and gradually progressing up the leg.  

Arterial Effects

Over time diabetes has effects on both the larger arteries and smallest arterial vessels.  The changes within the smallest arteries can result in deficient or absent supply to small areas which will produce results like those seen with the nerve numbness.  The skin health can also become locally affected.  Wounds may not heal as efficiently. They can become infected more readily.  


The arterial changes in the large vessels are from accelerated changes of atherosclerosis narrowing and ultimately clogging the arteries.  This can produce ischaemia or lack of blood to certain areas resulting in gangrene with subsequent loss of tissue from toes to legs.  

Open Wounds or Ulcers

Wounds occur more easily with diabetes.  With areas of numbness it is easy to injure areas without being aware of it.  The injury can cause immediate or later loss of tissue, producing an open wound or ulcer.  Careful foot care, with regular inspection is an important part of ongoing diabetes care.

Combined Effects

Combining the effects on the skin and underlying tissues from varicose veins and diabetes mellitus will produce significantly increased risks of complications.

If significant arterial disease is present it may be very difficult to effectively treat the varicose veins.  If possible to do so it would be best to repair the arterial problems first and then address the veins.


Safe Treatment Options

Therefore if you have varicose veins and diabetes it is even more important than if you have just varicose veins alone to get them checked and treated at an early stage.  The simple and relatively safe options of endovenous laser and/or ultrasound guided sclerotherapy will allow you to remain active and not require the added risk of a general anaesthetic to clear the problem veins.

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