Varicose Veins Are a Sign You May Have This Condition
Varicose veins are painful, unsightly, and can be a nuisance to your everyday life. They’re also a symptom of a bigger, more serious medical issue – venous insufficiency. This condition is most commonly found in older adults, but patients of all ages can develop varicose veins and other symptoms of venous insufficiency.
Fortunately, you don’t have to live with these uncomfortable symptoms forever. Venous insufficiency treatments can provide you with the relief you’re looking for. Before you pursue treatment, you’ll want to have a complete understanding of what venous insufficiency is, its symptoms, and the various ways it can be treated. Keep reading to learn more about this condition and the steps you can take to find relief.
Venous Insufficiency: What to Know
The veins in your legs have valves that make your blood flow in the correct direction, toward the heart, to continue being pumped throughout your body. When these valves are damaged, they aren’t able to close properly. Fighting gravity, your blood struggles to flow upwards and instead flows down your legs toward your feet. This inappropriate flow can cause your legs to feel tired, achy, and heavy.
Because an insufficient vein struggles to return blood to the heart, this causes blood to pool and increases the amount of pressure in your leg veins, this may lead to the formation of varicose veins.
Venous insufficiency, a chronic vein disease caused by improper functioning of the vein valves, can occur in any of your leg veins, including your deep, superficial, and perforating veins. It’s a relatively common condition, and affects up to 40% of people in the United States, according to the Society for Vascular surgery.
What Causes Venous Insufficiency?
The older you are, the more likely you are to experience venous insufficiency. However, poor health and genetics can also cause younger patients to develop this condition.
Venous insufficiency can be caused by family history, an unhealthy lifestyle, weak vein walls, prolonged sitting or standing, pregnancy, and smoking.
How Harmful Is Venous Insufficiency?
Venous insufficiency symptoms may be tolerable at first, but they can lead to more serious complications later on. You’ll want to treat these symptoms as soon as possible.
Venous insufficiency slows down your blood flow and without proper treatment, your veins could reach a high enough pressure that may cause a vein to burst. This can then result in tissue inflammation and damage, or venous stasis ulcers, which are open sores on the skin’s surface.
Symptoms of Venous Insufficiency
There are many signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency, one of which are varicose veins. These veins are easily recognizable by their winding, twisting, and bulging appearance. Varicose veins are usually a blue-green color.
Venous insufficiency symptoms also include:
- Achy or tired legs
- Burning, tingling sensation in the legs
- Cramping in the legs
- Heaviness in the legs
- Skin discoloration
- Swelling in the lower legs and ankles
You might not experience all of these symptoms at once. Every patient is different, and your venous insufficiency symptoms depend on the stage of your condition.
Venous Insufficiency Treatment Options
An experienced medical provider will use an ultrasound and physical examination to diagnose venous insufficiency. Depending on the progression of your condition, your provider will develop a treatment plan to address your personal needs.
Before any venous insufficiency treatments, your provider will recommend a few lifestyle changes. This may include leg elevation, exercise, or wearing compression stockings.
If your symptoms don’t improve, your provider will suggest minimally invasive treatment options, including endovenous laser ablation, sclerotherapy, and microphlebectomy.
Endovenous laser ablation uses a laser to target, heat, and seal large insufficient veins. A catheter is used to insert a thin laser fiber into the insufficient vein. The laser fiber emits thermal energy to the vein walls, causing them to close up. Once the varicose vein is sealed, the healthy veins return to normal blood flow. The sealed vein eventually turns into scar tissue, and your body reabsorbs it into surrounding tissue.
Endovenous laser ablation is conveniently completed under local anesthesia, which means there is no downtime and you may resume your daily activities immediately. During your visit, you can expect to be in our office for around an hour and a half or less. Our patients typically return to work the same day!
Microphlebectomy is a venous insufficiency treatment that is often done in conjunction with endovenous laser ablation. During this treatment, your provider makes small punctures in the skin to remove varicose veins.
During sclerotherapy, a chemical solution is injected into small reticular or spider veins. The sclerosant causes these veins to react and seal. The body then naturally breaks down and absorbs the sealed veins over time. This treatment is best for smaller reticular or spider veins.
Learn More About Venous Insufficiency Treatments Near You
If you’re experiencing varicose veins and are interested in the venous insufficiency treatments available to you, visit a certified medical provider in Pittsburgh to learn more. At your consultation, your provider can examine your insufficient veins and recommend a treatment plan that’s right for you.
Many patients love the convenience of endovenous laser ablation. Not only is this treatment offered in-office, but it requires little to no downtime, allowing patients to return to work the same day and resume their day-to-day activities.
To learn more about venous insufficiency and endovenous laser ablation, contact a phlebologist near you.