Blood flows in two directions: away from your heart to the rest of your body and from the rest of your body back to your heart. Veins keep your blood moving forward. Your valves are responsible for stopping the blood from moving backward. Blood valves can weaken over time, stopping the flow of blood and resulting in a condition known as venous insufficiency.
Who's At Risk for Venous Insufficiency?
The condition is caused by a number of factors including a person's age, height, and weight. If your family has a history of venous insufficiency, you will be more likely to have the condition yourself. Chronic venous insufficiency tends to be more common with older people, especially for those that sit or stand for long periods of time due to their health or their job. Obesity and pregnancy can also contribute to venous insufficiency.
Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
Those with venous insufficiency will feel the effects of having excess blood in their legs. Their legs might feel heavy with the added weight. Cramping, itching, aching, and swelling of the legs are likely to occur. The skin on the legs might take on a reddish hue and varicose veins are likely to appear. Individuals with venous insufficiency are also likely to have a condition known as lipodermatosclerosis, in which the skin on the legs and ankles stiffens. Individuals might also notice that any wounds on their legs are slow to heal.
Venous Insufficiency Treatments
Chronic venous insufficiency treatment options vary from mild lifestyle changes to surgical procedures. For mild cases of venous insufficiency, a doctor might suggest that the patient wear compression socks to bring down the swelling around the ankles. Those that suffer from venous insufficiency are encouraged not to stand or sit for long periods of time. Overweight patients are strongly encouraged to lose weight and to exercise regularly. Open wounds on the legs or ankles need to be cared for properly to make sure that blood loss is minimal.
Severe venous insufficiency treatment methods usually involve some form of surgery. A common form of venous insufficiency treatment is sclerotherapy, in which the doctor injects saline or salt water into the vein causing it to harden and then disappear. Another method of treatment is ablation, a procedure that uses intense heat to sear away the damaged vein. Microphlebectomy is a procedure that involves making tiny cuts along the outside of the damaged vein, allowing the doctor to remove the vein through one of the openings in the skin. Doctors also use a new minimally invasive venous insufficiency treatment option in which a laser fiber is inserted into the vein. The procedure only lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and the patient is free to simply walk out of the procedure room.
This content is courtesy of Dr. Michael F. Bardwil, MD, FACS and the team at Texas Vein& Cosmetic Specialists. They are one of the leading vein treatment and venous insufficiency treatment centers in Houston. Give them a call to learn about your treatment options. Schedule an appointment for your initial evaluation and start treating your venous insufficiency today!