Understanding Venous Disease and Treatment Options

Our goal at Bay Vein Associates is to get you back to doing the things you love- without the pain.

More than 40 million people suffer from painful legs, varicose veins, or a more serious form of vein (venous) disease called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Screening, diagnosis, and treatment for CVI is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare.

Symptoms often worsen over time, and if left untreated will negatively affect quality of life.

Common symptoms include:

  • Varicose veins
  • Leg or ankle swelling, worse at the end of the day
  • Leg pain, aching, or cramping
  • Leg heaviness and fatigue
  • Restless legs
  • Burning or itching of the skin
  • Skin color and/or texture changes
  • Lower leg ulcers

Who is at risk for Venous Disease?

The most common risk factors for CVI include:

  • Gender: there is a significantly higher prevalence of venous disease in women
  • Age: older age is a risk factor in both men and women
  • Heredity: family history of venous disease is a risk factor
  • Pregnancy: studies have shown an increase in venous disease among women who have had one or more pregnancies
  • Standing occupation: causes a great amount of pressure to develop in the leg veins and is a strong risk factor for venous disease
  • Obesity: in both men and women, there is a strong correlation between high BMI and increased risk for venous disease
  • Prior trauma or surgery: lower limb trauma has been found to be a risk factor for chronic venous disease

What is Venous Disease?

Venous disease often occurs when the valves in the primary leg veins fail. Healthy valves assist in pushing blood back up to the heart where it can be re-oxygenated and recirculated. But when venous valves become incompetent, blood cannot return to the heart and gravity causes it to pool in the legs. This is called Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI), and is often accompanied by varicose veins, pain, swelling, and more severe leg problems.

This image illustrates how the failure of venous valves prevents blood from being properly recirculated to the heart.

Healthy and Diseased Vein Valves

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins are often an early symptom of CVI. Some important facts about varicose veins:

  • Varicose veins are MORE than just a cosmetic issue
  • Varicose veins are NOT the same as spider veins
  • Varicose veins affect BOTH men and women

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that can be blue, red or flesh colored. They are often raised above the skin on the legs and look like twisted, bulging cords. Half of all Americans over 50, and two-thirds of women over 60, suffer from these big ropey leg veins. The problem is far more than cosmetic – the pain, swelling and leg fatigue can cause pain and discourage an active lifestyle. Severe varicose veins can even cause chronic infections and skin ulcerations if left untreated.

Varicose veins are often an indicator of underlying CVI.

How is CVI diagnosed?

The process of diagnosis begins with a consultation with your doctor that will include a conversation about your current general health, your past medical history, and your symptoms followed by a physical exam. Our clinic uses state of the art ultrasound technology to scan your legs and determine if venous disease is present.  These visits are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare.

What are the treatment options for CVI?

Conservative Therapies:

  • Exercise
  • Leg elevation
  • Compression stockings
  • Unna boot

These therapies treat the symptoms, not the underlying cause…

Surgical Treatment:

  • Vein stripping & ligation

Non-Surgical Treatments:

  • Radiofrequency ablation:  A short procedure that is done in our clinic.  Patients usually return to normal activity the same day.  This treatment is covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare.
  • Endovenous laser ablation

What can I do?

If you are suffering from varicose veins, leg pain, swelling or any of the symptoms associated with CVI:

If you know someone that may be suffering from varicose veins or any of the symptoms of CVI:

  • Educate them
  • Encourage them to seek treatment

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