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What Happens if You Ignore Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

What Happens if You Ignore Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when leg veins cannot efficiently return blood to the heart. This causes blood to pool in the legs, resulting in leg and ankle swelling, discomfort, skin discoloration, and other problems as the condition progresses.

Dr. Gary Nackman and his team at NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics Center in Oradell and Clifton, New Jersey, offer state-of-the-art care for varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), and other conditions that affect vein health.  

Here’s an overview from the NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics team regarding the causes of CVI and the treatments that can help prevent health complications.

CVI basics

Increased pressure in the leg veins can damage or weaken valves and blood vessel walls, which must work against gravity to move blood back to the heart. The damage related to CVI interferes with this process, resulting in symptoms that may eventually affect your mobility and quality of life.

Factors that contribute to CVI include:

A history of DVT (deep vein thrombosis or blood clot) significantly increases your risk of developing CVI. Unfortunately, CVI also increases your risk of DVT.

Health complications related to chronic venous insufficiency

CVI typically develops gradually and worsens over time without treatment, causing complications that may include:

Increased swelling

Persistent pooling of blood in the legs can cause increased swelling (edema), particularly in the lower legs and ankles. Scar tissue that develops over time can trap fluids in the affected tissue, increasing your risk of developing open sores and other complications.

Pain and discomfort

Aching discomfort and the sensation of heaviness in the legs are common symptoms of CVI. As the condition progresses, these symptoms become more pronounced, eventually interfering with mobility.

Skin changes

The skin around the affected vein(s) may become dry, itchy, and discolored (hyperpigmented), often turning a reddish-brown color. The skin can become leathery and hardened in severe cases, a condition known as lipodermatosclerosis.

Venous ulcers

Chronic inflammation and poor blood flow can lead to the formation of venous ulcers, typically around the ankles. These open sores are painful, prone to infection, and can be difficult to heal.

Increased infection risk

Skin changes related to CVI increase your susceptibility to infections, which can complicate treatment and potentially lead to more serious health issues like cellulitis or sepsis if left untreated.

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Inflammation of veins related to untreated CVI can lead to superficial thrombophlebitis. This inflammatory condition can cause blood clots in veins close to the skin’s surface, leading to pain, redness, warmth, and swelling.

Deep vein thrombosis (DVT)

Chronic venous insufficiency increases the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a condition where blood clots form in the deep veins of the legs. DVT can cause significant pain and swelling and poses a serious risk if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, causing a life-threatening pulmonary embolism.

Treating and preventing chronic venous insufficiency

At NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics Center, your treatment begins with a thorough evaluation that may include diagnostic studies to determine the overall health of your leg veins.

Based on the evaluation results, Dr. Nackman may suggest using compression stockings, doing routine exercise, implementing weight management, and elevating the legs to reduce symptoms.

You may also benefit from medication to manage infection, inflammation, and other complications of CVI.

Dr. Nackman may also recommend a minimally invasive treatment such as Venefit®, Varithena®, or Asclera® to collapse and seal damaged veins. This prompts the body to reroute blood flow to healthy leg veins.

Schedule a visit today by calling our office in Oradell or Clifton, New Jersey. You can also request an appointment online. 

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