What is a superficial blood clot?

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When you get a blood clot, you may be told that it is superficial. Learn more about what this means and what treatment options may be available to you if you develop a superficial blood clot.

What is a superficial blood clot?

Blood clots are classified into one of two categories: superficial and deep. Where the blood clot is located will depend upon whether it is classified as superficial or deep.

A superficial blood clot occurs in the veins that are located closest to the surface of the skin. A deep blood clot, often referred to as deep vein thrombosis or DVT, occurs in the veins that are located deep below the surface of the skin.

How serious is a superficial blood clot?

Superficial blood clots are rarely dangerous. However, you can still experience some painful and uncomfortable symptoms if you develop a superficial blood clot.

Some common symptoms that occur with superficial blood clots include:

  • Itching
  • Redness and swelling near the blood clot
  • Skin may feel warm to the touch
  • Pain and tenderness can occur in the affected limb

Treatment of superficial blood clots depends upon the severity of the condition

Non-surgical treatments and surgical procedures can both be used to treat superficial blood clots. A number of factors including previous health history, current health, severity of the blood clot, and whether symptoms are present will determine what treatment is used to treat your superficial blood clot.

If the superficial blood clot is fairly small and you aren’t experiencing any symptoms, such as pain or discomfort, your healthcare provider may recommend treating it at home. Some of the treatment recommendations that may be recommended include:

  • Elevating the affected limb – superficial blood clots usually happen in the arms and legs which makes them easy to elevate at a level that is above the heart
  • Using warm compresses or a heating pad to help relieve any minor pain or swelling
  • Wearing compression socks
  • Making lifestyle adjustments, such as exercising more and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Taking over-the-counter NSAIDs

It is important that you don’t try to treat a superficial blood clot at home without first seeking the advice of a healthcare professional. Your doctor or other advanced healthcare provider can help you determine if home treatment is right for you.

Other treatment options for superficial blood clots

While most superficial blood clots are treated at home, in some situations, such if you experience extreme symptoms, have co-occurring varicose veins or are considered a high-risk individual, your healthcare provider may recommend surgical treatment.

The treatment option that is recommended will vary depending upon your situation but may include:

  • Sclerotherapy
  • Endovenous Laser Therapy
  • Microphlebectomy
  • Use of ClosureFast, VenaSeal or Veinwave

Superficial blood clots should be monitored

Occasionally, a superficial blood clot may spread or break off and travel to a deeper vein. This causes deep vein thrombosis, or DVT. If deep vein thrombosis is not promptly and properly treated, you can experience serious, potentially life-threatening health problems.

Since superficial blood clots can progress to a more serious health condition, it is recommended that they be monitored by an experienced vascular surgeon if they are not being surgically removed. By monitoring the superficial blood clots, your vascular surgeon can determine if deep vein thrombosis occurs and administer proper medical treatment before you experience any serious health problems.

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