Venous disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), affects a significant number of Americans. Many people have no idea they have venous disease, meaning CVI can go untreated for long periods of time and end up causing significant health issues. Because symptoms gradually develop over years, people often accept that the lower extremities do not feel the same as when they were younger. It is important to understand that symptoms associated with the lower extremities might be a sign of vein disease. Knowing what these signs are symptoms are, can alert you to the need to seek a medical opinion.
At Bloomfield Vein and Vascular, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Dr. Diego Hernandez, a board certified vascular surgeon with a passion for vein disease, can accurately diagnose chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and create a treatment plan to help address your venous disease.
Signs of venous disease
Chronic venous insufficiency is, in essence, a condition where our lower extremity veins do not function adequately. It is caused when blood within our veins does not flow properly. Because the vast majority of our days are spent either standing, sitting or walking, the veins in our lower extremities have to return blood to the heart against the forces of gravity that plant our feet to the ground. Blood flow in the legs is often compromised when tiny valves inside the veins fail and do not work properly. Blood then flows backwards, away from the heart, a condition known as reflux, and ends up pooling up in our leg veins, particularly at the ankles. When these veins get distended as a result of the increased volume within them, they tend to cause signs and symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency include:
- Swelling of the legs and ankles
- Restlessness or soreness of the thighs or legs
- Heaviness, throbbing or aching in the legs
- Skin discoloration at the ankles
- Bulging varicose veins (blue or purple ropy veins in the legs)
- Discomfort when walking or after exercising
Blood flow that is slowed or stopped in the legs can put you at risk of a blood clot, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can be life-threatening. It is extremely important to pay attention to how your legs feel and to seek an evaluation with Dr. Hernandez if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Venous disease treatments
The approach to treat mild venous disease begins with a proper evaluation, a thorough physical exam and an appropriate ultrasound to help understand vein function. Treatment recommendations may involve the use of either compression stockings, specialized compression bandages and/or leg elevation. If venous disease has progressed, and the symptoms begin to affect a person’s quality of life, a specific plan can be tailored to deal with the veins that are not working properly; currently, all of the treatments for vein disease can be performed in a minimally invasive fashion on an outpatient basis. Based on Dr. Hernandez’ evaluation of your condition, he can recommend specific treatments that can eliminate the veins that are not working properly and in specific cases, help restore vein function and make your legs feel better. Some of the most common treatment options include:
Dr. Hernandez inserts a slender catheter into a damaged vein, then sends pulses of radiofrequency energy to make the vein collapse and seal shut. Blood will divert to a healthy vein.
Foam sclerotherapy or Varithena
Dr. Hernandez inserts a thin needle into a problem vein and injects a foam sclerosing agent that irritates the inside of the vein, damages the walls of the vein and makes the vein collapse and seal shut. The destroyed vein fragments are disposed of naturally by the body.
Iliac vein stenting
If the iliac vein (the large vein in our lower abdomen that drains all of the lower extremity veins) is compressed, Dr. Hernandez can place a stent in the vein to open the way for the correct flow of blood and prevent backflow. This is a very specialized procedure that requires a certain level of expertise and experience to perform properly. The team at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular has an unmatched level of experience as it pertains to performing this intervention.
Risks for venous disease
The risk for venous insufficiency is higher if you are a woman (especially if you have had multiple pregnancies) or if your family members have similar issues. You may also have a higher risk if you spend a lot of time on your feet or sitting down, if you lead a sedentary life or if you are overweight. It is important to recognize that your life should not be affected by vein disease. Our current understanding of vein problems and our very successful approach to deal with these problems, can help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms that are listed above, have spider or varicose veins and/or have developed leg swelling, it is important to be properly evaluated. Don’t wait and continue to suffer with this condition. Call the experts at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular at 248-206-5876, and schedule an appointment with Dr. Hernandez today.