Chronic Venous Insufficiency/Varicose Veins Q & A
Venous insufficiency leads to blood pooling in your legs, causing achy or painful legs and eventually leading to complications such as non-healing ulcers. Vascular Health Institute specializes in peripheral vascular interventions to treat the underlying cause of venous insufficiency, which is critical to prevent potentially debilitating complications. To schedule a comprehensive examination, please call our office or use the convenient online scheduling tool.
What is chronic venous insufficiency?
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 doesn’t flow in the proper direction, and begins to flow back down the vein, and collects in “pools”. This pooling can cause pain or a “heaviness” in the legs and can lead to enlarged, bulging, twisted, veins that are often visible through the skin, called varicose veins.
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, while valves in the veins open to let blood flow up toward the heart, then close to prevent it 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 don’t heal easily and can 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 advanced into the vein and a drug called 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
- Ambulatory phlebectomy: a portion of vein is removed
If you suffer from itchy, aching, or tired legs, call the Vascular Health Institute or click to book an appointment online.