Can Chronic Venous Insufficiency Be Reversed?

A picture of Rahul Sood

Rahul Sood

Having visible varicose veins and spider veins is not an uncommon condition. They appear as a result of chronic venous insufficiency where the deep vein valves in the legs are not working properly and cause blood to pool in the vessels. While it certainly sounds intimidating, this vein disease is mostly harmless and most of its symptoms are fairly manageable. 

So is there a way to reverse the chronic venous insufficiency condition? Unfortunately, there’s no confirmed method to reverse the causes of chronic venous insufficiency. The best thing you can do is to manage its symptoms so that it won’t negatively affect your quality of life. There are also available medical treatments that can repair damaged veins to improve the appearance of varicose veins. 

Is It Possible To Reverse Chronic Venous Insufficiency?  

Some experts share that roughly 40% of American adults can be at risk for having chronic venous insufficiency at one point in their lives. While this condition predominantly affects older men and women, a number of the younger population can also have them with slightly milder symptoms. 

This venous disease occurs because of valvular incompetence or weakened vein valves which disrupt the normal flow of blood from your lower extremities to the heart. With damaged one-way valves, blood will begin to accumulate in the veins and cause high venous pressure that may lead to the development of varicose veins and uncomfortable leg pain. 

Compared to broken veins or blockages which can repair and heal naturally, the issue of damaged venous valves inside the blood vessel cannot fix themselves on their own. For this reason, the condition of chronic venous insufficiency cannot be simply reversed. Getting specialized vein treatments is the only known way to improve this vein disease. 

Chronic Venous Insufficiency As A Progressive Disease: How Is It Usually Diagnosed  

Once the vein valves are impaired and not treated immediately, the condition of chronic venous insufficiency will only get worse over time. This vascular disease can progress to debilitating symptoms and potentially serious complications that may become more challenging to treat in the future.

One of the most common early signs of chronic venous insufficiency is varicose veins. It’s caused by the pooling of blood inside the veins which leads to the appearance of enlarged veins that have bluish or purple discoloration on the skin surface. 

However, not all people who have varicose veins are diagnosed with chronic venous insufficiency. To be able to treat this disease properly, it’s important that you get diagnosed by a vein specialist. 

Meanwhile, to determine the severity of chronic venous insufficiency, a doctor will need to do an examination of the veins in your legs. Along with asking about your medical history, they’ll conduct some exams to check the blood flow and function of your veins. Here are some of the diagnostic tests that they may perform: 

1) Physical leg examination 

During a physical leg examination, you will be asked to assume a standing position and the doctor will visually look for any differences in the size of the legs. First, they will perform palpation to look for any signs of active ulceration or tenderness and swelling in the legs. 

If you have varicose veins, you may also be asked to undergo the Brodie-Trendelenburg test to check for any perforator incompetence in the deep or superficial veins in the legs. This exam is commonly done with the patient lying down and one leg will be elevated to allow the congested veins to collapse. 

2) Duplex ultrasound

A venous duplex ultrasound is a noninvasive test that is done to analyze how blood is flowing through your veins. It scans for any blockages or blood clots to determine the potential cause of leg swelling and varicose veins. Duplex scanning combines the two known methods of ultrasound: B-mode which uses a transducer to generate images of the veins, and Doppler examination which determines the movement and direction of blood circulation.

3) Magnetic resonance venogram 

The procedure for magnetic resonance venography involves the use of radiofrequency waves and large magnets to produce a visual picture of the veins to determine the cause of your vein problem. This imaging test can help look for any clotting or abnormalities in the structure or walls of the blood vessels.  

4) CT venography 

Unlike an MRV that uses radiofrequency technology to scan the leg veins, a CT venogram generates a series of X-ray pictures that shows the condition of the veins in the legs. During this examination, the doctor typically injects a special contrast dye into the vein which projects the blood flow into a computer monitor. This allows your medical provider to analyze the movement of blood and detect how healthy your veins are. 

What’s Next After Diagnostic Testing For Chronic Venous Insufficiency 

The outcome of your clinical tests will most likely show the extent of your chronic venous insufficiency. After the initial evaluation, your doctor may further classify your venous disease into different stages according to the severity of your symptoms: 

  • Stage 1 – You’re showing signs of visible reticular veins and spider veins. These small veins don’t usually protrude but will appear as tangled discolorations on the skin surface. 
  • Stage 2  – Some enlarged varicose veins are starting to form on the legs and feet. You might also feel minor discomforts like chronic pain, muscle aches or cramps, and heaviness in the legs. 
  • Stage 3 – You might begin to notice some edema or leg swelling as a result of poor blood circulation of excess fluids accumulating inside the veins. 
  • Stage 4 – In this stage, you will notice some skin color changes especially around the visible veins. You may also start to itch and see some rashes caused by an inflammatory response to the leaking of blood from the veins. 
  • Stage 5 – In severe cases of untreated chronic venous insufficiency, you may have open sores or venous stasis ulcers caused by the breaking down of the soft tissue on your leg. Leg ulcers can be extremely painful and unsightly to see and you may need to wear medical dressings on the wounds to avoid risks of infection. 

5 Effective Nonsurgical Treatments For Chronic Venous Insufficiency  

Due to the irreversible nature of damaged vein valves, the only way to treat chronic venous insufficiency is by having medical treatments that will close the diseased veins and restore healthy blood flow.  Here are some of the commonly performed procedures for vein treatment: 

Sclerotherapy This vein removal procedure involves the injection of a liquid or foam solution directly to the affected veins. The solution will cause the vein to form scar tissue which will block the blood flow and redirect them to a healthy vein. Then over time, the treated vein will collapse, which will then improve the appearance of visible veins. 
Endovenous thermal ablation Also known as endovenous laser treatment, this outpatient procedure uses laser technology to close the damaged veins in the leg. It’s performed by inserting a tiny catheter with a probe that will send a beam of laser energy to heat the veins. This procedure is done under local anesthesia and can be finished in under an hour. Most patients can resume their normal activities after the procedure. 
Radiofrequency ablation Unlike a laser vein treatment, this type of venous ablation uses heat from electric energy to allow the damaged leg vein to shrink. It’s usually done by inserting a catheter with electrodes through a small incision on the knees. It also requires anesthesia and will also take less than an hour. 
Phlebectomy An ambulatory phlebectomy is a minimally invasive procedure that involves larger veins on the skin surface through small punctures. During the treatment, the doctor injects anesthetic directly to the skin over the vein and creates a small hole where they’ll insert a hook to pull the diseased vein from the legs. The whole procedure normally takes 30 to 60 minutes, but it has minimal downtime and patients can return to their usual activities shortly after.
VenaSeal Another treatment option to close the veins is by applying a medical adhesive called VenaSeal. Your doctor will inject the adhesive into the veins through a small incision on the leg. This medical glue solution will seal the affected veins and reroute blood flow to healthier vessels. 

Possible Causes Of Chronic Venous Insufficiency 

This venous disease can happen to anyone, regardless of age and gender. However, there are several risk factors that can increase your chances of having chronic venous insufficiency. Some of the likely causes of varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency are: 

  • Having vein issues is in your family history or genetics 
  • Living a sedentary lifestyle with a lack of active exercise 
  • Hormonal changes, especially during pregnancy and menopause 
  • Obesity or experiencing excessive weight gain
  • Having prolonged periods of standing or sitting down 
  • Previous damage or injury to the vessels or having a history of blood clot (deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism) 

What Can You Do To Prevent The Recurrence Of This Vein Problem?  

While most vein removal procedures are effective in permanently getting rid of present varicose veins, there’s a chance that new ones will form over time. To avoid the recurrence of the symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency, here are some helpful tips: 

  • Wear a pair of compression socks or compression stockings to keep blood moving and prevent them from pooling in the leg veins, especially if you have to stand for long periods of time. 
  • Elevate your legs for a few minutes every day to help improve mild symptoms of venous insufficiency. 
  • Keep moving and follow a regular exercise routine to improve blood circulation. Doing calf exercises can also strengthen and tone your leg muscles to minimize the risk of varicose veins. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight and consume a nutritious and low-salt diet to avoid increasing fluid retention and blood pressure.
  • Take supplements that may reduce inflammation and maintain healthy blood flow and vein health like horse chestnut extract, Butcher’s broom, and pine bark extract. Make sure to consult with your doctor for overall safety if you’re planning to take these natural remedies.

Eliminate Spider Veins and Varicose Veins With Safe Non-Surgical Treatments at Vein Center Doctor

varicose veins and spider veins treated with slerotherapy by a professional vein doctor

Chronic venous insufficiency isn’t a serious life-threatening illness, but it can have painful and uncomfortable symptoms. While it’s not totally reversible, this condition can be easily cured with specialized vein treatments to provide relief from leg pain and minimize the appearance of varicose veins. 

At Vein Center Doctor, we offer a wide range of non-surgical treatment options to resolve your vein issues without any pain and risks. Our clinic, led by Dr. Rahul Sood, is home to some of the best vein specialists in New York and New Jersey who can help you achieve vein-free legs. To inquire about our procedures, or to schedule a consultation with a vein doctor, call us today.

Rahul Sood


About Rahul Sood

Dr. Rahul Sood is a triple board-certified physician who specializes in cosmetic vein treatment, namely spider veins and varicose veins, as well as any accompanying issues related to venous insufficiency such as leg pain. He has carried out over 10,000 leg procedures during 10-plus year career and is highly regarded throughout Westchester County and New Jersey.

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