Individuals who suffer from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) have a long-term disorder that usually worsens over time. Many are unaware that they have it because they are unfamiliar with the symptoms. Fortunately, getting care early from a vein treatment specialist makes it possible to successfully manage this condition.
What Exactly is CVI?
Venous insufficiency occurs when deep veins tasked with returning blood from an individual’s legs to the heart have difficulty doing so. Valves in these veins help keep blood from falling backward into the vessels. MedlinePlus notes that CVI occurs when vessel walls weaken and valves incur damage. Blood falls backward, pools, and stretches the affected veins, often causing varicose vessels.
The Cleveland Clinic indicates that around 40 percent of U.S. adults suffer from CVI. Common risk factors include:
- A deep vein thrombosis
- An individual or family history of varicose vessels
- Being obese
- Physical inactivity
- Sitting or standing for long periods
- Being female
- Age older than 50
In addition to the cosmetic annoyance varicose veins often pose, patients experience a number of symptoms as CVI worsens. Having any of these symptoms is a reason to see a vein specialist:
- Swelling that occurs in the lower legs as well as the ankles, particularly after long periods of standing
- A sensation of leg fatigue or aching
- Development of new varicose vessels
- Leg skin that has a leathery look
- Leg or foot skin that itches or flakes
- Presence of stasis ulcers
In addition to completing an exam and taking an individual’s medical history, physicians who see patients with CVI symptoms often want to check their leg circulation with a duplex ultrasound exam.
Options From a Vein Treatment Specialist
When CVI remains untreated, capillaries in the legs eventually burst. The skin on top of them appears reddish brown and sensitive to touch. Burst capillaries can lead to inflammation and significant damage to tissue.
Beyond varicose veins, the potential complication most often linked to CVI is the formation of venous stasis ulcers that appear as open sores on the surface of the skin. Physicians often find it hard to heal these sores. When an uncontrolled infection develops, it sometimes results in the development of cellulitis.
Most CVI treatment options are non-surgical. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, they include:
- Conservative therapies such as elevating the legs, losing excess weight, becoming more physically active, and wearing compression stockings
- Medications to boost blood flow and to heal ulcers
- Endovenous laser ablation/radiofrequency ablation that uses heat to close targeted veins
- Sclerotherapy that injects a special substances into spider veins or some small varicose veins to scar them so that they cannot transport blood
Prompt treatment of chronic venous insufficiency can help patients manage discomfort and the progression of this disorder. For some, this means preventing actual disability.