What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Venous insufficiency is a common condition in which vein valves weaken, allowing blood to pool in the legs or flow in reverse through the vein (venous reflux). Rather than pumping blood up to the heart efficiently, these veins begin to swell with excess pressure, creating spider veins, varicose veins, and symptoms like leg swelling, cramping, itching, and restlessness. When the condition persists, it’s known as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). Left untreated, it won’t reverse on its own. But there are lifestyle tips to minimize symptoms and minimally invasive treatments that resolve CVI. Here are some Chronic Venous Insufficiency photos to compare to your symptoms. But other things can also cause symptoms like leg swelling, so click HERE for a proper diagnosis at our California vein center.

Has your vein doctor diagnosed you with varicose veins or vein disease? Here’s what causes CVI and how to reverse venous insufficiency.

What Causes Broken Capillaries on Legs and Varicose Veins?

One of the primary things that causes broken capillaries on legs, varicose veins, and spider veins, is Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Vein valves are supposed to shut once blood passes through them, to keep blood flowing in a singular direction. When they fail, blood collects, coagulating the vein, and it also begins trickling down toward the feet. When blood accumulates in the blood vessel, it begins to expand, creating bulging, tortuous varicose veins, or tiny offshoots called spider veins.

While some people call spider veins and varicose veins a “burst vein” or “collapsed vein,” they are a different issue. A collapsed vein is one that collapses over time after repeated injections of medicine. A burst vein is one that ruptures from injury or injection. Conversely, spider veins and varicose veins are not collapsed veins or burst veins, but veins that we treat by intentionally collapsing them, so that blood flows into healthier veins.

Our Harvard-trained vein doctors do this by heating, injecting, or gluing the vein’s walls, so that blood flows away from the pressurized vein and into veins that can pump it back to the heart. So, “collapsed vein treatment,” if misused in reference to venous insufficiency, is not treating a vein that has collapsed. Rather, it’s medically collapsing a vein that’s inefficient, which is technically called vein ablation, not collapsed vein treatment.

Are a Varicose Vein and Insufficiency the Same Thing?

A varicose vein is a vein that becomes enlarged and twisted, often as a result of venous insufficiency. However, patients can have venous insufficiency without visible varicose veins, and vice versa. Many patients don’t even know they have venous insufficiency, and others have symptoms like spider veins, varicose veins, edema, discoloration, or venous stasis dermatitis. Patients with CVI aren’t guaranteed to have varicose veins, however the likelihood is very high.

What Are the Beginning Stages of Varicose Veins and CVI?

No two patients follow the exact same path with venous insufficiency. However, CVI does tend to get progressively worse. Some patients will develop varicose veins in stage 1, while others might notice leg swelling or heaviness first. The beginning stages of varicose veins and CVI might involve burning or cramping sensations in the legs, or they might include leg fatigue and restlessness while you sleep.

Spider veins and varicose veins are the most obvious clues that circulation is compromised, but other visible signs are flaky, leathery skin, hyperpigmentation, swelling, and venous eczema (venous stasis dermatitis). As the disease progresses, patients can develop slow-healing wounds (venous ulcerations) and bleeding that’s hard to control. If you suspect CVI, visit our CA vein doctors promptly, since the earlier we address it, the better the outcome.

How to Reverse Venous Insufficiency: Can It Be Done at Home?

Patients often ask whether they can reverse venous insufficiency at home. By its definition, CVI involves broken vein valves and overtaxed veins, so you cannot repair those at home. However, the treatments for venous insufficiency are quick and minimally invasive, so you can reverse CVI with your vein doctor in less than 30 minutes. In addition, you can take steps to reduce symptoms and improve blood flow to help prevent new spider veins and varicose veins. Here are some lifestyle tactics to try:

  • Reduce salt intake (to manage blood pressure)
  • Elevate legs while at rest (to help leg veins pump blood upward)
  • Avoid sitting or standing too long (to keep blood from pooling in the vein)
  • Get plenty of exercise (to increase muscle contractions that help veins pump blood)
  • Try compression stockings (to boost circulation, but only if advised & fitted by a doctor)
  • Cleanse and moisturize skin (to reduce scaling and itching from venous stasis)

What Is the Most Common Femoral Vein Reflux Treatment?

The femoral vein is a large blood vessel in the thigh that carries deoxygenated blood back to the heart. It runs alongside the femoral artery, which delivers oxygenated blood throughout the body. When a valve fails within the femoral vein, reflux (backward blood flow) occurs, creating the pressure that generates spider veins, varicose veins, and the unpleasant symptoms of CVI.

The most common way to treat this condition is by sealing off the problematic section(s) of the vein. This is done by radiofrequency ablation (VNUS Closure or ClosureFast), sclerotherapy (Varithena), vein adhesives (VenaSeal), or a dual-modality catheter (ClariVein). Each of these methods are minimally invasive, fast, and gentle. The best one will depend on your medical history and preferences. Most insurance plans cover at least one of these options, and they don’t require any downtime or hospitalization. Our patients often treat venous reflux during their lunch break, so it’s not a burden to treat CVI. 

Does Saphenous Vein Reflux Treatment Require Surgery?

Vein medicine has seen tremendous advances over the last few decades. While surgery was once a first line of treatment for patients with vein disease, it’s now rarely recommended. Better options are available for saphenous vein reflux treatment, like radiofrequency ablation, sclerotherapy, and cyanoacrylate glue, all of which close off defective veins.

These procedures have a much better risk profile, and are less painful and time-consuming for patients than traditional vein stripping surgery, which extracts the vein from the body. If you do need vein surgery, it has also evolved, and there are new options like ambulatory phlebectomy that don’t create the same hassles as surgery in previous decades.

Do Minimally Invasive Methods Reverse CVI?

Minimally invasive vein treatments are highly effective against spider veins and varicose veins, and also venous insufficiency. Our California vein specialists employ technology like Duplex Ultrasound to locate the problematic areas and correct them with precision. We can treat both the visible vein damage and the underlying cause with the same procedure. If your doctor recommends vein surgery, talk to our experts first. Our board certified doctors studied vein medicine, while some vein specialists studied things like dermatology, so they might not have access to the cutting-edge, non-surgical vein treatments that we do.

What Kind of Doctor Treats Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

If you’re wondering what kind of doctor treats chronic venous insufficiency, the best answer is a board certified vein doctor. These physicians studied vein medicine specifically, whereas other doctors who offer vein treatment might have specialized in dermatology or surgery. Several vein treatment centers aren’t staffed by doctors at all, but by estheticians, who can only provide surface laser treatments (temporarily effective against some spider veins, but not venous insufficiency).

If you don’t treat chronic venous insufficiency correctly, new spider veins and varicose veins will continue to appear. In addition, the disease may worsen, causing serious or even life-threatening complications like deep vein thrombosis or bleeding that’s tough to control. Visit our award-winning vein doctors in California today to reverse your venous insufficiency and restore both your confidence and your quality of life!