Chronic Venous Insufficiency/Varicose Veins Q & A
What is chronic venous insufficiency?
As blood cycles throughout the body, your veins usually carry blood from your feet, up the leg, and back to your heart. Venous insufficiency occurs when blood in one or more leg veins does not flow in the proper direction and begins to flow back down the vein, collecting in pools.
This pooling can cause pain or a “heaviness” in the legs and lead to enlarged, bulging, and twisted veins. These veins, called Varicose Veins, are often visible through the skin.
What causes chronic venous insufficiency?
Your body uses several mechanisms to propel blood through your veins. Leg muscles contract when you walk, pushing blood upward. Smooth muscles that line the veins also contract to keep blood flowing. Valves in your veins open, allowing blood to flow up toward your heart and close to prevent the blood from going backward. When one or more of these mechanisms doesn’t work properly, blood flows down the vein, collecting in pools.
Some of the common risk factors that contribute to chronic venous insufficiency include:
- Age 50 or older
- Multiple pregnancies
- History of blood clots (deep vein thrombosis)
- Family history of chronic venous insufficiency
- Damaged valves in the veins of the legs
- Leg trauma
- Extended sitting or standing
- History of varicose veins
- Inactive lifestyle
What are the symptoms of venous insufficiency?
Chronic venous insufficiency only worsens over time, so it’s crucial to call Vascular Health Institute when you notice symptoms. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications. The symptoms associated with venous insufficiency include:
- Varicose veins
- Aching or tired legs
- Swollen lower legs and ankles
- Leathery skin on your legs
- Itchy skin on your legs
- Ulcers on the legs or feet
When chronic venous insufficiency goes untreated, tiny capillaries can burst, giving your skin a reddish-brown appearance and making it sensitive to touch. Over time, broken capillaries cause open sores on the skin’s surface — venous stasis ulcers — that do not heal quickly and become infected. This infection may spread to the surrounding tissues.
How are chronic venous insufficiency/varicose veins treated?
Each patient’s treatment is customized but may include:
- Sclerotherapy: chemicals are injected directly into veins which collapses and seals them
- Mechanochemical Ablation (MOCA): A special rotating catheter is placed into the vein, and a drug called a sclerosant is injected through the catheter to close the vein. This method is often preferred to other methods because no tumescent anesthesia injections or multiple lidocaine injections are needed.
- Laser or Radio Frequency Ablation: laser energy or high-frequency radio waves use heat to close off veins
If you suffer from itchy, aching, or tired legs, call Vascular Health Institute today at (469) 436-3650, or click to book an appointment online.