Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the veins in your legs cannot pump blood back to the heart effectively. This condition can lead to various symptoms and complications affecting your quality of life.
Board-certified vascular surgeon Dr. Gary Nackman and our team at NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics Center in Oradell and Clifton, New Jersey, specialize in diagnosing and treating vascular conditions like CVI.
Read these basic facts from our team regarding chronic venous insufficiency, its symptoms, and who is at risk of developing it.
What is chronic venous insufficiency?
Veins are the vessels that carry blood back to the heart and lungs for an oxygen refill. Chronic venous insufficiency is a vascular condition characterized by inadequate blood flow from veins in the legs and back to the heart. Healthy veins in the legs contain one-way valves that facilitate the upward flow of blood against gravity.
When these valves become damaged or weakened, blood can pool in the veins, leading to increased pressure that can cause spider veins, varicose veins, leg swelling, and other complications.
Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency
The symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency can vary, depending on how far the condition progresses, and may include:
- Tired or achy sensation in the legs
- Cramping in the legs at night
- Leathery, itchy, or flaky skin
- Brownish-red skin discoloration, usually around the ankles
- Varicose veins
- Spider veins
- Swelling in the lower legs, ankles, and feet, especially after prolonged standing or sitting
- Open skin ulcers, often developing near the ankles
Left untreated, CVI can cause significant discomfort and decreased mobility over time.
Chronic venous insufficiency risk factors and causes
Several factors can contribute to and increase your risk of chronic venous insufficiency, including:
The most common cause of CVI is damage to the valves in the leg veins. This damage can result from conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a history of blood clots, or inflammation of the veins.
Enlarged and twisted veins, known as varicose veins, can contribute to CVI and may be an early symptom of the condition. Varicose veins often result from weakened vein walls and valves, causing blood and excess fluid to pool in the legs.
Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition where blood clots form in the deep veins of the legs, can obstruct blood flow and lead to chronic venous insufficiency.
Evidence suggests that a family history of venous insufficiency may increase your risk of developing the condition. Genetic factors can contribute to the structural integrity of vein walls and valves.
Age and gender
Advancing age is a risk factor for CVI, as veins may lose elasticity over time. Additionally, women are more prone to venous insufficiency, particularly during pregnancy and hormonal fluctuations.
Excess body weight can put additional pressure on the veins, contributing to valve damage and venous insufficiency. Occupations that involve prolonged periods of standing or sitting can impede blood circulation, increasing your risk of CVI.
Based on initial evaluation results, your NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics specialist may recommend lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active to help manage chronic venous insufficiency.
Successful treatment strategies also include minimally invasive therapies to close damaged veins, causing your body to reroute blood flow to nearby, healthy veins.
Schedule a visit today by calling our NJ Vein Care and Aesthetics Center office in Oradell or Clifton, New Jersey today. You can also request an appointment using our online service.