Are your lower legs discolored?

Bf Legs Summer 505697585
Skin discoloration is often related to reduced venous flow as a result of varicose veins.

By Dr. Sonja Stiller, Center for Advanced Vein Care

Summer is a time for shorts and sandals, but many people feel compelled to hide their legs and ankles due to varicose veins—bulging, twisted, purple or red—and/or swollen ankles. But there is another symptom of venous disease that people often try to hide: leg discoloration.

A change in the color of your lower legs can present in different ways, including red patches or a red or brown hue. Sometimes discoloration is related to skin disorders such as rashes or eczema. It can also be related to venous hypertension, which is more common in the summer when veins dilate to keep themselves cool.

But skin discoloration is also often related to reduced venous flow as a result of varicose veins. Many people try to hide the change in color—as well as spider veins and blue-purple veins—by tanning, both indoors and out, or wearing capris. But these are cosmetic solutions to something that may not be a cosmetic problem.

And because impaired veins cannot properly carry metabolic trash away from the feet and ankles, skin discoloration may be accompanied by swelling.

Brown discoloration often means that venous health has been compromised for some time due to a lack of blood flow to the skin. This condition is more difficult to reverse. If you notice skin discoloration on your lower legs, it’s best to seek treatment now instead of covering it up, especially if you have a family history of varicose veins or are experiencing any of these additional symptoms: leg pain • swelling • fatigue • itching • burning • inflammation • leg cramps • restless legs syndrome.

Dr. Sonja Stiller is a diplomat of both the American Board of Emergency Medicine and the American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine. She is the founder of the Center for Advanced Vein Care, a Tier 1 provider with Lake Health Hospital System, located at 7200 Mentor Avenue, in Mentor. For an appointment, call 440-710-1140. More info can be found at