Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a disease of your veins. The vein walls and valves that push the blood against gravity and back to your heart and lungs stop working efficiently. When this occurs, the blood backs up, called stasis, and can stretch out the weak vein wall. This is called varicose veins and looks like blue or purplish ropes along your legs. While spider veins, the thin purplish veins just under the skin that resemble spider webs, are not as serious as varicose veins, they can be uncomfortable. In Laguna Niguel, we offer vein treatment to safely remove varicose veins and spider veins.
What Causes Chronic Venous Insufficiency?
All the organs in your body participate in circulating blood to the heart and lungs to be purified before it goes back to the organs. In the legs, the blood needs to flow against the natural pull of gravity that brings it towards the ground. There are several ways the body does this. Calf muscles and foot muscles contract together to push the blood along its course upwards. The veins have little valves that only work one way. When the blood is pushed along by the heartbeat and muscle contraction, the valves open to let it through. After each push, the valves close to prevent the blood from flowing backward.
These tiny valves can become damaged and stop working properly. They don’t close at the proper time and allow blood to remain in the vein. When this happens, the blood pressure in the vein may remain high for long periods, which leads to CVI.
What are the Symptoms of CVI?
Chronic venous insufficiency may not be a serious health hazard at first. You may have varicose veins inside your legs and not see them. Some of the most common symptoms of CVI are:
- Cramps, especially at night – these can be very painful and last anywhere from less than a minute to up to 10 minutes or more.
- Pain – you may experience leg pain and not know the source. It can feel like a burning sensation or a muscle cramp.
- Changes in your skin – especially around the ankles, the skin may become red or darker like a band around the ankle. In some cases, tiny sores may form that can become serious ulcers if the cause is not treated.
- Severe itching – your legs may start itching for no apparent reason. If you scratch too strongly, you may cause bleeding.
- Swelling – if the varicose vein is inside your leg, it may cause your leg to swell even if you can’t see the vein. It may produce areas of swelling that seem like soft raised areas.
If you have any of the above symptoms, we recommend you visit our office to have your veins checked. There are very good treatments for chronic venous insufficiently, and the earlier it is diagnosed, the better. If left untreated, you may be at risk of developing serious health issues.
How Does Chronic Venous Insufficiency Develop?
The most common cause of CVI is heredity. If your parents or grandparents had varicose veins, there is a very good chance you will, too. Other causes are:
- Obesity – excess weight for years makes it difficult for the heart to function. It needs to work overtime every day just to keep the blood circulating. This is one reason obesity is one of the main causes of heart attacks. Healthy veins will function efficiently for years, but if they regularly work too hard, they get tired and weak.
- Pregnancy – pregnant women may develop varicose veins because of pressure on the leg veins. As with obesity, the veins work harder. Unlike obesity, the veins usually return to their normal functioning after childbirth.
- Unhealthy lifestyle – exercise is essential for keeping the muscles in your legs strong to help with blood circulation. A sedentary lifestyle results in weak muscles. It also may result in obesity.
- Long periods of standing – people who have jobs in which they need to stand for long periods such as teachers and nurses are at risk of developing varicose veins. The veins constantly overwork to push the blood against gravity.
- Long periods of sitting – similarly, long periods of sitting at a desk block the circulation from the legs, causing the veins to overwork.
- Smoking – this increases the risk of developing varicose veins according to studies done in France and increases the risk of ulcers that don’t easily heal because smoking inhibits tissue recovery.
- A blood clot in a deep vein – called deep vein thrombosis, it can be a serious health hazard.
- Phlebitis – this occurs when inflammation and swelling occur in a vein close to the skin, usually in the legs.
When you have your veins examined by our specialist in the Laguna Niguel area, an ultrasound test may be performed. This gives the professional an image of your veins and shows the beginning and end of any CVI. It also shows the speed of your blood circulation. Some questions you may be asked are:
- If you have pain or cramping, how severe is it?
- When did you first notice any of the symptoms of CVI?
- Do you notice if any action improves your symptoms or reduces the pain?
- Do you notice if any actions worsen the pain?
When you visit our office, a customized vein treatment plan will be created to treat your vein issues. The plan will depend on your age, overall health and medical history. It will also take into consideration the extent of your chronic venous insufficiency. We will discuss any medications you take and may make changes. We will help you understand your options.
What are the Treatments?
Medical technology has several advanced minimally-invasive treatments to remove varicose veins. In some cases, surgery may be needed, but the most common treatments for varicose veins and spider veins are:
- Lifestyle changes and compression stockings – for very mild cases and those caught in the early stages, we may recommend wearing compression stockings for a set amount of time. These help put pressure on the vein and help the muscles keep the blood flowing. Lifestyle changes may include regular exercise. It doesn’t have to be very strenuous; fast walking is good, but it should be regular. If you sit for hours on end, you may be asked to get up and walk around for a few minutes every hour. If you stand for hours, you may be asked to sit with your feet raised several times a day.
- Sclerotherapy – this is a minimally-invasive medical procedure that has been successfully used to eliminate varicose veins for decades. It involves an injection of a special solution directly into the affected vein. The chemical, usually a saline solution, damages the vein wall and makes it seal closed. The professional may put mild pressure on the vein to make sure it is closed. Once the vein is destroyed, your blood flows through the other veins. After the procedure, you may be asked to walk around for a few minutes and then wear compression stockings for a set amount of time in order to get optimal results.
- Laser or RFA vein closure – this is usually recommended for advanced cases of varicose veins, especially for people where the other treatment methods are not suitable. During these treatments, carefully controlled energy is used in order to encourage the safe removal of the problematic vein.
All of the above treatments are done in the comfort of our office as outpatient procedures. Topical anesthesia may be used depending on the treatment and situation. You may be asked to wear compression stockings in the days and/or weeks after the procedure. The recovery time is minimal to nonexistent, and you can go back to work or other regular activities the same day or the next day.
Learn More During a Consultation
If you think you are developing chronic venous insufficiency, or if you already have visible varicose veins or spider veins in Laguna Niguel, you should schedule a consultation with our specialist at Coastal Vein Care to have your veins evaluated. There is a good chance you may be free of the painful and unattractive veins for good. We would be more than happy to evaluate your case and determine which of our vein treatment options is best for you. During this meeting, feel free to ask whatever questions you may have so that you can get a realistic idea of what each treatment can and cannot do. Our team is here to help you every step of the way as you make your problematic veins a thing of the past.
Coastal Vein Care is conveniently located in Corona Del Mar and proudly serves men and women throughout Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to book a consultation and get started with vein treatment.