How Do You Treat Edema When You Have Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

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There are instances when veins visibly appear on our skin, which can definitely be ugly. But when veins appear constantly, and it becomes chronic, then it may be indicative of an underlying medical condition. Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) occurs when the veins in your legs are damaged, which results in excessive pooling of blood in the area that causes edema.

So how is edema treated when you have chronic venous insufficiency? First, the cause of CVI is determined to arrive at a proper treatment plan for this condition. The treatment plan may be chosen within a variety of options which can be done through surgical or non-surgical means, oral medication, or simple treatments at home.

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Edema Treatments for Those With Chronic Venous Insufficiency

There is a wide variety of treatments for chronic venous insufficiency (i.e, venous stasis). To accurately determine the appropriate treatment to be used, the cause of CVI is first determined. CVI may be triggered by many factors, among many are the following:

  • Aging process
  • Weight gain
  • Injuries
  • Hormonal imbalance

The factor that triggered CVI indicates whether it was simply the presence of such a factor that resulted in CVI, which means that the state of the condition would merely be temporary. The results of treatments are also more effective if the root cause is identified. 

No matter how effective cosmetic treatments are, if the origin of CVI is left unknown, then varicose veins and spider veins will just keep returning from time to time. So for long-lasting results, you need to diagnose CVI and its cause to receive more effective treatment.

Chronic venous disease treatment isn’t dangerous, especially if diagnosed and treated at an early stage. But if left untreated, CVI can lead to severe cases and elevated symptoms. In order to prevent chronic venous insufficiency, these methods can be used:

  • Lifestyle changes
  • Weight loss programs
  • Stress management techniques
  • Self-care remedies to ease certain symptoms
  • Medication
  • Assistive devices like compression stockings

Holistic Treatments for Chronic Venous Insufficiency at The Vein Center Doctor

To determine potential causes and then treat chronic venous insufficiency, our skilled specialists can perform exams and tests. In the case of venous marks, once this cause has been addressed, you can seek out our options for removal and see more effective results with a reduced risk of recurrences. 

A custom chronic venous insufficiency treatment plan, including lifestyle changes, can be provided if you suffer from CVI, spider veins, or varicose veins. The treatment plans available at the Vein Center Doctor are minimally invasive and non-surgical, such as the following:

  • Sclerotherapy
  • Radiofrequency ablation
  • Endovenous laser treatment
  • Venaseal
  • Compression therapy

1) Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a popular treatment for spider veins and varicose veins, which involves using a catheter to directly inject a special thickening solution into the affected veins. The process of sclerotherapy forces the old, damaged vein to close and to turn into scar tissue to be absorbed by your body. The blood is then redirected into healthier functioning veins to allow blood flow back to the heart.

2) Radiofrequency Ablation

Radiation ablation causes scar tissue to form and close up damaged or unhealthy blood vessels by heating them. As your body absorbs the scar tissue, blood flow will naturally be redirected to other veins.

3) Endovenous Laser Treatment

Another most commonly used laser treatment for spider veins and varicose veins is endovenous laser therapy. Ultrasound guides a laser fiber that heats and closes unhealthy blood vessels using laser technology.

4) VenaSeal

As with any other minimally-invasive treatment, VenaSeal requires no anesthesia. As an adhesive, FDA-approved "vein glue" is injected into the affected vein. As a result, the vein is closed and eventually reabsorbed by your body while other veins receive the blood flow. 

5) Compression Therapy

As a home remedy, compression therapy can help speed up the recovery process by allowing your body to absorb scar tissue more quickly and improve results. Scar tissue heals faster when compression bandages, socks, and stockings are worn. Aside from home remedies, intermittent pneumatic compression devices are used in compression therapy at the Vein Center Doctor.

Other Treatment Options for Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Aside from the non-invasive procedures that are offered at the Vein Center Doctor, there are also other treatments that may be more appropriate to address your CVI, depending on its cause and severity.

1) Simple Ways to Improve Leg Vein Blood Flow

Healthcare providers usually recommend changes in some lifestyle habits as the first step to treating CVI. Along with that, some routine is also established to facilitate better blood flow to and from the legs. Some ways to improve blood flow in the leg vein are the following:

  • Elevate the legs above the level of your heart to help reduce pressure in your leg veins.
  • Do simple exercises such as walking, or any other recommended forms of exercise by your provider, to improve blood flow. 
  • Determine healthy weight and manage it accordingly to decrease pressure on your veins and valve damage.
  • Quit smoking and decrease consumption of foods that result in high blood pressure.

2) Medication for CVI

Oral medications may also be prescribed by your healthcare provider to treat CVI, such as the following:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anticoagulants
  • Medicated wrap (i.e, unna boot)

Medications merely improve the appearance or the superficial causes of the varicose veins or spider veins, which means that it doesn’t treat the underlying cause. However, medications may still be helpful as a complementary treatment alongside other methods for faster healing of the unpleasant-looking spider veins or varicose veins on your leg.

3) Surgical Treatment Options for CVI

As much as possible, vascular surgery is considered as a drastic measure and most providers turn to it only when it’s the only option to address severe cases of CVI because other methods aren’t effective enough. Some surgical treatments for CVI include:

  • Vein Bypass. This method involves taking part of a healthy vein in another location around the area, which is used to redirect the venous blood around the damaged vein.
  • Microincision (i.e, ambulatory phlebectomy). Microincision, although surgical, is a minimally invasive procedure. This involves targeting the varicose veins near the surface of the skin, where small incisions are made. Using a phlebectomy hook, the vein problem is removed via small incisions or needle punctures.
  • Subfascial Endoscopic Perforator Surgery (SEPS). Another minimally invasive procedure, SEPS targets perforating veins above your ankle. Using a clip, your provider blocks off damaged veins so blood doesn’t flow through them. SEPS is commonly used when venous ulcers have developed due to CIV.
  • Ligation and Stripping. Ligation involves cutting your problem veins, which are then tied off together. Ligation is often performed with stripping, which is the removal of larger veins through 2 small incisions.

Diagnosis of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

CVI can be diagnosed through the repeated occurrence of varicose veins or spider veins even after treatment, as well as the presence of the symptoms of this condition. To have an accurate view of the extent and cause of the condition, the following are done to diagnose CVI:

  • Review of medical history (including family’s medical history)
  • Physical examinations to look for clinical signs of CVI
  • Vascular ultrasound, and sometimes MRI

If your CVI isn’t diagnosed because of recurrent spider veins or varicose veins, then the condition itself will be treated depending on what causes it. This ensures that the proper method of treatment that’s as minimally damaging as possible is identified before resorting to drastic procedures such as vascular surgery.

The treatment plan will prioritize treating CVI from its root cause depending on the results of the tests performed before any treatments for visibly unpleasant spider veins and varicose veins can be performed.

What is Chronic Vein Insufficiency and Why Does It Cause Lower-Limb Edema?

Your cardiovascular system, which is composed of your veins, arteries, and valves is responsible for pumping blood throughout your body. Valves pump blood to and from the heart through the types of blood vessels such as arteries and veins. Arteries are responsible for pumping blood toward your body parts, veins pump blood back to your heart.

Vein insufficiency may occur when your venous valves become weak or damaged which causes venous reflux, wherein there are irregularities that occur when pumping the blood back to the heart, resulting in venous blood pooling in one vein section. When venous blood pooling occurs, spider veins or varicose veins may develop and other symptoms may occur such as lower-limb edema or swelling.

Having edema or swelling in your legs results from irregular blood flow caused by damaged veins in your legs, which prevents blood from being pumped back to your heart. When the symptoms of vein insufficiency appear for a long period of time, or when spider veins or varicose veins repeatedly occur, then it may be possible that you have chronic vein insufficiency.

CVI may be caused by factors that only lead to the condition whenever that factor is present such as pregnancy, but most times, CVI indicates an underlying medical condition that causes damage to the patient’s valves.

Causes of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency affects approximately 1 in 20 adults, most of them people over the age of 50. The risk for CVI increases as you age, so it’s important to be mindful of the symptoms and causes.

Identifying what causes CVI is the first step in its prevention and treatment. The common causes of CVI are as follows:

  • Inherent risk factors. CVI can be acquired through heredity, so if you have a medical history of CVI in your family and you currently have it, then that might be the probable cause. Pregnancy and being overweight also increase your risk of having CVI.
  • Damaged vein structure due to underlying conditions. Blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, and leg trauma are among the many issues that can negatively impact the structure of your veins, causing CVI. Incompetent venous valves in the superficial vein may also cause CVI.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle. Unhealthy lifestyle habits such as smoking and lack of exercise also put you at risk for CVI. Long periods of standing, sitting, and sleeping on a chair also contribute to increasing your risk for CVI. Aside from unhealthy habits per se, the product of this kind of lifestyle, such as high blood pressure, may also cause CVI.

The best way to prevent CVI and other venous disorders is to maintain healthy body weight, exercise, avoid prolonged sitting or standing, and quit smoking. But remember that you can't prevent certain causes such as injuries and traumatic accidents. 

Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

If you’re wondering when you should visit a doctor to treat CVI, the answer is that you should see a specialist for the first signs and symptoms. Being mindful of the symptoms of CVI is important to diagnose it as early as possible and avoid prolonged suffering from pain.

Venous edema or swelling is one of the many manifestations of CVI, but the symptoms of this condition aren't limited to that. CVI can also produce the following symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Leg cramps or pain from standing
  • Leg edema or swollen legs
  • Tingling and itching sensations
  • Venous ulceration
  • Changes in skin color on legs and ankles
  • Recurrent spider veins or varicose veins (even after treatment)

Stages of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

The stages of venous disorders or vein disease are also applicable to the stages of CVI. These stages are based on clinical signs that your healthcare provider assessed when they examine the condition of your legs. The stages of CVI include:

  • Stage 0. Mild symptoms are felt such as tired or aching legs.
  • Stage 1. Spider veins or varicose veins become slightly visible.
  • Stage 2. Spider veins or varicose veins become 3 millimeters wide.
  • Stage 3. Venous edema occurs, but there are no skin changes yet.
  • Stage 4. Skin changes occur in skin color or skin texture.
  • Stage 5. Venous stasis ulcer appears to be healed.
  • Stage 6. Venous leg ulcers are acute and active.

Having varicose veins (Stage 2) isn’t indicative of CVI, but it’s important to inform your healthcare provider about its worsening conditions. Moreover, chronic vein insufficiency is often diagnosed at stage 3 or above.

Latest Vein Treatment Technology at Vein Center Doctor

Varicose vein and spider vein conditions don't always indicate CVI. There are other symptoms such as a venous ulcer or other visible manifestations of lower leg venous obstruction. Either way, any unpleasant appearance or venous edema in the legs may indicate irregularities in blood flow, so it’s important to consult a reputable vein clinic.

Aside from chronic venous insufficiency treatment, we also offer treatments for other vein disease at Vein Center Doctor. Various cardiovascular conditions have been treated by the vein specialists in our clinic. By using our minimally invasive and effective techniques, we can remove those unsightly spider veins and varicose veins comfortably. Schedule a consultation with us for more information on CVI and start your journey to vein-free and pain-free skin.

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