Tasked with returning deoxygenated blood back to your heart, your veins contain a series of one-way valves that help keep blood flowing efficiently and in the right direction. Venous insufficiency occurs when these valves become too weak or damaged to work normally.
When blood doesn’t flow through vein valves as it should, it pools behind them, stretching and swelling that area of your vein wall. When the condition persists or progresses, it’s called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
An estimated 2 in 5 adults in the United States have CVI. While anyone can develop it, the condition is most common in middle-aged and older adults, people who are overweight or obese, and those who sit or stand for long periods.
Women are more likely to develop CVI than men, particularly during or after pregnancy.
CVI doesn’t usually cause symptoms early on. As the condition progresses, however, you may experience:
While milder CVI symptoms are often manageable with the right self-care strategies, severe symptoms can become disabling without treatment.
Although CVI isn’t considered a serious health issue, it can give rise to bothersome and serious complications as it progresses. Two common complications of CVI are:
When blood repeatedly pools behind a weak or damaged vein valve, it exerts pressure on the vessel wall. Over time, this continuous pressure can stretch and twist the affected vein area, causing it to distort and become varicose.
Varicose veins usually appear as bulging, swollen, or rope-like veins near the surface of your skin. Smaller, less pronounced varicose vein types are called reticular veins and spider veins.
Continuous pressure and fluid buildup in one section of a vein can keep nutrients and oxygen from reaching the surrounding tissues. As the undernourished cells die off, the area becomes more susceptible to damage and wound formation.
As one of the more serious complications of CVI, venous ulcers are open sores that are slow to heal and usually appear on the lower leg. They’re often accompanied by vein bleeding.
When CVI causes bothersome symptoms or appears to be progressing despite conservative measures like exercise or wearing compression stockings, vein ablation treatment can be the best way to avoid complications.
Depending on your medical history and the severity of your condition, the team at Advanced Vascular & Vein Associates may recommend endovenous laser ablation (EVLA), also known as laser vein therapy.
This minimally invasive, in-office procedure uses a thin tube called a catheter to send targeted laser heat into the affected vein, causing it to collapse. As blood reroutes itself into healthier, functional veins, your lower extremity blood flow improves.
To learn more about the CVI treatment options at Advanced Vascular & Vein Associates, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.