What is venous insufficiency? Dr. Diego Hernandez breaks down the signs and symptoms of vein disease and the treatment options available
Sponsored by Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, PLLC.
Do your legs ache? Do they feel heavy, tired and do they swell? Have you noticed veins on the surface of your legs or are you witnessing color changes around your ankle? All of these signs and/or symptoms are due to vein disease, and collectively these problems all stem from chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which affects the vast majority of Americans in a variety of ways.
Many people have no idea they have venous disease, meaning CVI can go untreated for long periods and end up causing significant health issues. Because symptoms gradually develop over years, people often accept that their lower extremities do not feel the same as when they were younger. How often do you excuse leg pain at the end of the day as something that is caused from spending too much time on your feet? It is important to understand that symptoms associated with the lower extremities might be a sign of vein disease, and that it is not necessary to accept such symptoms as part of growing old. Knowing about venous disease can alert you to the need to seek a medical opinion.
At Bloomfield Vein & Vascular, in Bloomfield Hills, Diego Hernandez, MD, a board-certified vascular surgeon with a passion for vein disease, can accurately diagnose chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and create a treatment plan to help address your venous disease.
Signs of Venous Disease
Chronic venous insufficiency is, in essence, a condition where our lower-extremity veins do not function adequately. It is caused when blood within our veins does not flow properly. Because the vast majority of our days are spent either standing, sitting or walking, the veins in our lower extremities have to return blood to the heart against the forces of gravity that plant our feet to the ground. Blood flow in the legs is often compromised when tiny valves inside the veins fail and do not work properly. Blood then flows backwards, away from the heart — a condition known as reflux — and ends up pooling in our leg veins, particularly at the ankles. When these veins get distended as a result of the increased volume within, it tends to cause signs and symptoms.
Signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency include:
- Swelling of the legs and/or ankles
- Restlessness or soreness of the thighs or legs
- Heaviness, throbbing or aching in the legs
- Skin discoloration at the ankles (initially red, but can progress to purple, brown and/or black)
- Bulging varicose veins (blue or purple ropy veins in the legs)
- Discomfort when walking or after exercising
Blood flow that is slowed or stopped in the legs can put you at risk of a blood clot, a condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which can be life-threatening. It is extremely important to pay attention to how your legs feel and to seek an evaluation with Dr. Hernandez if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Venous Disease Treatments
The approach to venous disease begins with a proper evaluation, a thorough physical exam and an ultrasound to help understand vein function. Treatment recommendations for mild conditions may involve the use of compression stockings, specialized compression bandages and/or leg elevation. If venous disease has progressed and the symptoms begin to affect a person’s quality of life, a specific plan can be tailored to deal with the veins that are not working properly; currently, all of the treatments for vein disease can be performed in a minimally invasive fashion on an outpatient basis. Based on Dr. Hernandez’s evaluation of your condition, he can recommend specific treatments to eliminate the veins that are not working properly and in specific cases, help restore vein function and make your legs feel better. Some of the most common treatment options include:
Dr. Hernandez inserts a slender catheter into a damaged vein, then sends pulses of radiofrequency energy to make the vein collapse and seal shut. Blood will divert to a healthy vein. This procedure is performed in the office using light sedation. The recovery is quick and the results are excellent. Insurance covers this type of procedure.
Foam Sclerotherapy or Varithena®
Dr. Hernandez inserts a thin needle into a problem vein and injects a foam sclerosing agent that irritates the inside of the vein, which damages the vein walls and causes the vein to collapse and seal shut. The destroyed vein fragments are disposed of naturally by the body. This procedure can safely replace phlebectomy, the physical removal of veins using small incisions. This intervention treats various types of vein conditions comfortably, quickly and in an outpatient setting.
Iliac Vein Stenting
If the iliac vein (the large vein in the lower abdomen that drains all of the lower-extremity veins) is compressed, a condition sometimes known as May-Thurner syndrome, Dr. Hernandez can place a stent in the vein to correct the compression and restore flow of blood and prevent backflow. This is a very specialized procedure that requires a certain level of expertise and experience to perform properly. In order to determine if this is the cause of your symptoms, a detailed work up is necessary. The team at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular has an unmatched level of experience when it comes to performing this intervention. We were the first in Michigan to insert one of the few FDA-approved stents to help treat iliac vein compression and we continue to be on the forefront when it comes to the treatment of iliac vein compression.
Risks for Venous Disease
The risk for venous insufficiency is higher if you are a woman (especially if you have had multiple pregnancies) or if your family members have similar issues. You may also have a higher risk if you spend a lot of time on your feet or sitting down, if you lead a sedentary life or if you are overweight. It is important to recognize that your life should not be affected by vein disease. Our current understanding of vein problems and our very successful approach to deal with these problems can help relieve your symptoms and improve your quality of life. There is no reason to live with leg pain; the old-fashioned approach to accepting leg pain as part of the normal aging process is no longer acceptable.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, have spider or varicose veins and/or have developed leg swelling, it is important to be properly evaluated. Don’t wait and continue to suffer with this condition. Call the experts at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular at 248-481-2100 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Hernandez today.
Contact our office today at 248-481-2100, or visit us at www.bloomfieldveinandvascular.com and see what a difference it makes to be evaluated and treated by the vein experts at Bloomfield Vein & Vascular.
43700 Woodward Ave., suite 207, Bloomfield Hills