Learn about the stages of varicose veins and how dangerous the neglected condition of your veins is

Vessels and heart work in our body without interruption. By pumping blood, they support overall metabolism and health. When the load on the vessels increases, they need strength to resist the increased pressure. Otherwise, the tone of the veins decreases, which leads to an expansion of their lumen and deterioration of functions. The pathological expansion of the venous vessels is called varicose veins. In the absence of adequate treatment, this condition can lead to serious problems and irreversible consequences.


Symptoms of varicose veins of the lower extremities

Varicose veins have several classifications that take into account different criteria. The disease can be characterized in terms of functional disorders, structural changes, clinical signs, and other factors. The international classification distinguishes the following types or classes of varicose veins:

  • 0 - the initial stage without clinical manifestations, changes in the vessels are noticeable only during instrumental examination.
  • 1 - small telangiectasias appear.
  • 2 - the expansion of small vessels becomes noticeable to the naked eye.
  • 3 - there is discomfort in the affected limb and swelling.
  • 4 - the structure of the skin is disturbed.
  • 5 - pre-ulcer condition of tissues on the affected limb.
  • 6 - the appearance of trophic ulcers that can hardly be cured.

Classification by shape

There is also a division of varicose veins into forms, depending on the location of the pathology:

  • Local- small spider veins are visible. Only subcutaneous capillaries are affected, normal blood flow is not disturbed, reflux does not occur. Looks like a cosmetic defect.
  • Segmental- expansion of small superficial veins leads to disruption of blood flow and throwing a certain amount in the opposite direction.
  • Widespread- there is a persistent expansion of superficial veins, during the study, blood flow is recorded against the main movement. The patient develops a feeling of fatigue and evening swelling.
  • Localized- deep vessels are affected, blood is refluxed, edema and inflammation occur.

When assessing a patient's condition, doctors usually use several classifications and give a mixed description of the clinical picture. This helps to more accurately describe the ongoing changes and determine the stage of development of the pathological process.


The main classification of varicose veins is the division according to functional disorders. She distinguishes three stages of varicose veins:

  • compensation;
  • subcompensation;
  • decompensation.

Sometimes they add stage zero, which is initial and is characterized by the absence of clinical manifestations.

Let's look at each of them in more detail.

Stages of disease progression

The development of varicose veins takes a long period of time.Pathology does not appear immediately, but after constant exposure to a provoking factor. This can be heavy lifting, a sedentary lifestyle, pregnancy, smoking, and other reasons. Changes in the vessels occur gradually, but they become noticeable to a person already in the early stages. It is best to start treatment when the first symptoms appear. Depending on the stage of varicose veins of the lower extremities, the tactics of therapy will depend.

Initial stage

At this stage in the development of pathology, proper treatment can not only stop the progression of the disease, but also lead to complete recovery. The difficulty lies in the fact that at an early stage, varicose veins are rarely diagnosed. This usually happens during an accidental examination, since the patient does not attach importance to external changes in the vessels, which are hardly noticeable at this stage.

Grade 1 varicose veins cause nonspecific symptoms, so most patients associate them with normal fatigue. May be disturbed by:

  • evening weariness;
  • burning sensation in the lower limb;
  • painful sensations;
  • convulsions;
  • discomfort for no particular reason.

Small purple threads appear on the surface of the skin - dilated venous vessels. The affected area may take on a bluish tinge. More often, discomfort is worried in the lower part of the leg - in the area of the ankle, lower leg. It is there that varicose veins usually begin, since the load on the venous vessels is maximum.

In the first stage, symptoms intensify towards evening, with prolonged standing or exercise. Very often this is similar to the usual fatigue after a working day, so patients rarely go to the doctor for advice and treatment.

Second stage

A vessel protruding above the surface of the skin with varicose veins of the second stage

Grade 2 varicose veins is a condition with more pronounced symptoms and low effectiveness of conservative treatment. At this stage, the deformation of the veins becomes more noticeable.

This manifests itself externally, as well as in the patient's well-being. The vessels are noticeably dilated and can protrude above the surface of the skin. Nodules form - areas where blood stagnates, swelling and soreness appear.

The normal blood flow at this degree of varicose veins is impaired; during the examination, the doctor detects reverse reflux due to loose contact of the valves. Numbness, tingling, sensory disturbances are added to the unpleasant symptoms. Puffiness and pain disappear in the morning after a night's rest, but in the evening they arise again.

Third stage

Venous nodules in the third stage of varicose veins

In the absence of adequate treatment for grade 2 varicose veins, the pathology continues to progress, since the vessels are unable to cope with the existing load. The diseased limb begins to function worse and cause constant discomfort. Puffiness and impaired sensitivity disturb at any time of the day. The patient is forced to restrict physical activity, but rest does not bring much relief.

Venous nodules and visible areas of the IVV increase the area of the lesion.Of late clinical symptoms, problems with the skin join- it loses its elasticity, becomes dry, itching or eczematous eruptions may appear. The subcutaneous tissue is easily injured, hemorrhages and hyperpigmentation zones occur in it.

Violation of blood circulation, which is practically not eliminated, leads to a lack of adequate nutrition of tissues and the receipt of oxygen by them. After a while, trophic ulcers appear at this place, which even a minor injury can provoke. Healing is very slow and difficult, there is a high probability of activation of pathogenic flora. Such patients get a disability. It is a critically ill condition that is often fatal due to bacterial infection or massive bleeding.

Treatment methods will be different for each stage. At the stage of compensation, the patient can restore the tone of the veins with the help of compression garments and venotonics, and during decompensation they will be completely ineffective.


It is not difficult for a specialist to identify varicose veins and make a correct diagnosis. For this, the patient's complaints and external manifestations of pathology are enough. To accurately determine the stage of development of varicose enlargement, duplex examination, ultrasound scan, rheovasography are prescribed. A blood test will help assess the likelihood of a blood clot.

Taking anamnesis is an important stage in the diagnosis of varicose veins. The doctor can identify predisposing factors: smoking, inactive lifestyle, heredity. A visual examination of the veins, changes in local temperature, palpation are performed.


Treatment of varicose veins must be carried out in order to prevent trophic changes in tissues and irreversible processes. The tactics of therapy depends on the stage of varicose veins and may include several areas:

  1. Compression therapy. In pharmacies, special medical jersey is sold, which is designed for patients with varicose veins. Its special production technology helps to treat varicose veins, as well as to serve as a preventive measure. Lingerie should be worn constantly, removing only for the period of night sleep. This will provide additional support for weakened veins and prevent pathological expansion. Compression hosiery is presented in different models for any limb of the body, so each patient will be able to choose the appropriate option, taking into account the characteristics of his disease.
  2. Drug therapy. This is the most popular direction that can be used at all stages of varicose veins, as well as for the prevention of vascular problems. The basis of conservative treatment is the intake of venotonic drugs. They help to strengthen the vascular wall, increase its elasticity and reduce blood stagnation. It is better to apply them internally and also externally at the site of the lesion. Also shown is the use of drugs that help thin the blood and facilitate blood circulation.
  3. Surgery. Recommended in advanced stages of varicose veins, when conservative treatment is ineffective. It can be prescribed with a high risk of thrombus formation or in the presence of an inflammatory process in the affected area of the vessel. Phlebectomy is performed at the third stage of varicose veins, when the pathology is accompanied by blood clots and trophic ulcers.
  4. Minimally invasive methods. They are not an abdominal operation, but the removal of the damaged section of the vessel using modern technologies. They are unambiguously recommended in the second and third stages of varicose veins, when drugs are no longer able to completely restore the structure of the veins. Such techniques are sclerotherapy and laser coagulation.

Traditional medicine

Folk recipes are very popular in the treatment of many diseases, including varicose veins. People believe that their effectiveness has been proven by many years of experience, but this is not entirely true. The gifts of nature really contain useful substances that help fight the symptoms of varicose veins, as well as strengthen the vascular wall.

Patients often make home baths or compresses based on food or herbs for varicose veins. For example, treatment of varicose veins with household soap or cabbage compresses is popular. Positive reviews were received for nutmeg, aloe, honey, horse chestnut.

However, doctors understand that such methods are effective only in the initial stages of the disease. In addition, they can definitely be used to prevent varicose veins. When the pathology has passed into a more advanced phase, drug treatment is indispensable.

Why is it important to identify varicose veins in the early stages and start treating it?

Pathological changes that occur in the veins are aggravated as varicose veins progress. It takes a long time to return the vessel to its original state. The sooner treatment is started, the faster the veins and surrounding tissues will restore their structure and function.

In addition to any method of treatment, the patient needs to follow the correct lifestyle - stop smoking, do not take excessive loads in the gym, minimize stress, take walks in the fresh air.