Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI) affects roughly 40% of American adults, and an estimated 150,000 new cases are discovered annually. CVI is more common in women than in men, and it mostly affects people 50 years of age and older. Other at-risk groups include those who are pregnant, overweight, smoke, or have a family history of vein disease.
This disease is treatable—but if left untreated, it can be life-threatening. If you notice early signs of CVI, see a doctor as soon as possible. Take some time to learn about CVI, its warning signs, and available treatment options.
Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)
What Is Venous Insufficiency?
In healthy legs, one-way valves carry blood up the legs so it can reach the rest of the body. When someone has CVI, those valves don’t function properly. Instead of flowing up, blood flows down. With nowhere to go, that blood gets trapped in the legs and creates pressure in the veins. This pressure is one of the primary causes of venous insufficiency.
Signs & Risk Factors
4 Signs of Venous Insufficiency
CVI presents itself through various physical signs. If you want to know how to spot a venous insufficiency, check out these 4 common signs found in CVI patients. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, contact your doctor or contact the Gilvydis Vein Clinic to discuss treatment options.
Varicose veins are veins that enlarge and twist due to increased pressure. They’re most common in the legs because standing and walking cause greater pressure levels. Varicose veins themselves won’t always cause problems, but they’re usually a warning sign for bigger issues, like CVI.
Here are some at-home treatment options for varicose veins:
- Avoid sitting for long periods
- Exercise regularly
- Elevate your legs
- Wear compression socks
Abnormal swelling in the legs is another common sign of CVI. In a CVI patient, malfunctioning valves cause blood to flow down instead of up the legs, resulting in clotting. This clotting increases pressure in the legs, and that increased pressure causes the legs, ankles, and/or feet to swell. To reduce leg swelling, try elevating your legs to improve circulation. Wearing compression socks may help also, as they increase blood flow in the legs.
CVI sometimes presents itself through discoloration of the skin. However, this symptom generally becomes apparent after varicose veins and leg swelling occur. When the blood that flows down the legs continues to build up, it slowly kills veins and tissue. When tissue dies, the extra blood stains—or discolors—the skin.
For minor cases of skin discoloration due to CVI, try these at-home treatment options:
- Compression socks
- Elevate legs to increase circulation
- Exercise regularly
For more severe cases, seek professional medical care. Your doctor might suggest one of these treatments:
- Radiofrequency Ablation
Painful, Tight, or Itchy Calves
Other common symptoms of CVI include painful, tight, and itchy calves. If you experience any of these sensations while standing but not when sitting down or elevating your legs, you might have CVI. When blood builds up in the veins and eventually leaks into the skin, inflammation can occur. This inflammation causes uncomfortable sensations in the skin.
One at-home remedy for these symptoms is to apply a moisturizer regularly to prevent your skin from getting dry and cracking. Other treatments like antihistamines, antibiotics, and medicated creams might help.
Risk Factors for Venous Insufficiency
The following risk factors are most common in patients who develop CVI. If you have questions or concerns, contact your doctor or visit the Gilvydis Vein Clinic for a consultation.
Obese people are at risk of developing CVI because excess weight causes stress to leg veins. This added stress increases the pressure in your valves, causing them to malfunction. When leg valves malfunction, the blood begins to flow down and build up in your veins. Once this buildup occurs, CVI is more likely to develop. To mitigate this risk factor, exercise regularly and implement a healthy diet into your daily routine.
Similar to obesity, standing and/or sitting for extended periods put excess strain on your legs which increases pressure. Once the pressure increases, the same process of downward blood flow and buildup occurs. To avoid developing CVI, avoid standing and sitting for extended periods.
Blood clotting causes a buildup of blood in the veins. Over time, this buildup either creates pressure in the legs or causes vein blockage. Both situations lead to CVI. To prevent blood from clotting, start by increasing circulation through periodic walking and exercise. Stretching your legs and wearing compression socks also help increase blood flow.
If you have a family history of CVI, you are at greater risk of developing it. If you’re unsure if anyone in your family has had CVI, talk to your family members or contact your doctor to schedule a consultation.
Treating Venous Insufficiency
Your doctor may recommend one of the following treatment options for venous insufficiency:
Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA)
EVLA is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure that uses a catheter to close varicose veins. Blood then is redirected from the unhealthy veins to healthy veins. This procedure generally takes about 45 minutes. Throughout his career, Dr. Gilvydis has performed over 20,000 EVLA procedures.
Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical treatment that involves injecting sclerosant into varicose veins. Sclerosant causes the varicose veins to scar, forcing the blood flow to reroute to healthier veins. Without blood flow, the varicose veins fade away. At Gilvydis Vein Clinic, all our medical professionals are trained to perform this treatment.
If you are experiencing a milder case of venous insufficiency, the following at-home treatments may work for you:
- Healthy eating
- Compression Socks
However, you should always get CVI checked out by your doctor to ensure that symptoms do not worsen and put you at risk.
Choose Gilvydis Vein Clinic for Vein Diagnosis & Treatment
At Gilvydis Vein Clinic, we’re committed to providing the expert vein care our patients deserve. Since 2013, Dr. Gilvydis has performed over 20,000 successful laser vein treatments. He and his team are here to give you high-quality, customized care every step of the way. Visit our website to learn more about our services, or give us a call at (815) 827-1098 to schedule a free consultation or vein screening. When vein problems have you down, we’ve got you covered.