Is treatment for Chronic Venous Insufficiency Worthy?
A leading vascular surgeon talks about vein disease, and why treatment for chronic venous insufficiency is necessary
If you have taken medical advice for getting your varicose veins or spider veins treated, you may have been told that you need to correct a condition called chronic venous insufficiency. What is this condition? Does It really need treatment? Read on to find out!
Treatment for chronic venous insufficiency: Understanding the problem first!
Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition that affects the main veins of the legs. These veins, called the saphenous veins, carry blood from the legs back to the heart. When you sit or stand for long periods of time, the vein needs to push blood upwards to the heart against gravitational forces. This difficult job is accomplished by the presence of ‘valves’ in the veins. These valves are like doors that work on a pressure gradient. When blood moves upwards past them, they shut, which prevents the blood from falling back down into the legs.
In CVS, the valves become dysfunctional, and no longer shut effectively. As a result, blood can leak through the valves and trickle downwards into the legs. The increased blood volume in the legs raises the vein pressure to such an extent that it forces the formation of new, unhealthy veins. These new veins may be large, bulging, and twisted (varicose veins), or they may be small, purplish or bluish streaks (spider veins).
Imagine that you have a leaky pipe against a wall, which has caused the wall to develop water stains. You could repaint the wall to get rid of the stains, but wouldn’t the leaky pipe just create more stains? The permanent solution to the problem would be to fix the leaky pipe – remove it, or seal it off so that there is no water in the pipe. Similarly, to treat CVS, a vein specialist needs to address the saphenous vein.
Take the same analogy to CVS. The saphenous veins are like the leaky pipe, and your varicose and spider veins are those water stains. You could fix the varicose veins and spider veins, but unless you treat the saphenous veins, they will simply form again.
Why do I need to get treatment for chronic venous insufficiency?
We have established that there is no point in treating varicose veins and spider veins, unless you address the problem of chronic venous insufficiency. People who are not fussed about cosmetic appearances may choose to not even get their varicose and spider veins fixed. But what happens if you ignore the whole lot altogether? That may not be a great idea either, for two main reasons:
Symptoms of CVS become worse over time
Initially, you may not have any symptoms associated with varicose veins and spider veins. However, over time, all that excess pooled blood is going to create some amount of discomfort. You could develop swollen ankles, especially after you sit or stand for long periods of time. Your feet start to ache and feel heavy, and this gets worse at the end of the day. You could also develop cramping pain in your legs. You can develop leg fatigue very easily. All these symptoms progressively worsen with time, and many people attribute these symptoms to the ageing process, but in truth, these are classic symptoms of CVS, and show that your legs are crying out to get treated.
Untreated CVS can have potentially fatal complications
In the long term, the pooled blood in the legs stagnates and impairs blood circulation to the skin and other superficial parts of the leg. This can in turn lead to some serious complications, which include:
- Leg ulcers: Ulcers form when the skin does not have enough blood to heal itself. If you injure the skin over the defective vein, even through a minor scratch, it can develop into an ugly leg ulcer that is persistent and difficult to treat.
- Bleeding: When you have swollen veins, even minor trauma like a bump can cause them to rupture, leading to profuse bleeding. This bleeding needs emergency treatment as it can be difficult to control.
- Deep vein thrombosis: This is a condition where the blood in the veins begins to clot. If the blood clot breaks off, it can travel through the bloodstream to the heart, and block blood circulation to the lungs. This condition, called pulmonary embolism, is extremely serious and can even cause sudden death.
What are the methods of treatment for chronic venous insufficiency?
To treat CVS, you need to address the saphenous vein. You could either remove the vein altogether, or seal it off so that blood no longer flows through it. So there are basically two treatment strategies:
Invasive methods: These involve removing the saphenous veins surgically.
Minimally invasive methods: Most vein specialists recommend minimally invasive techniques as they are quick, can be done in the doctor’s outpatient office, and do not require any recovery time. These techniques work by cutting off blood supply in the veins. Once the blood flow stops, the disused veins shrink and disappear naturally. This is achieved by using one of the following methods:
- Radiofrequency ablation: Heat is delivered through a radiofrequency catheter to seal off the vein.
- Endovenous laser ablation: The vein is sealed off using laser energy.
- VenaSeal: Medical grade glue is injected into the saphenous vein. The glue blocks up the entire vein and seals it off.
The Vein Treatment Clinic, a leading vein treatment center in the United States, offers comprehensive diagnosis and management of chronic venous insufficiency. When you seek treatment for varicose and spider veins, our team of highly skilled, board certified specialists will use a duplex ultrasound to evaluate for CVS, and will then offer you a customized treatment plan. To learn more, do call 855-699-2004, or book an appointment online.
Book a Consultation
Scheduling a consultation with one of our vein treatment experts is one of the best ways to determine the proper resolution for your varicose veins. The treatments can include sclerotherapy, laser or radiofrequency ablation, a medication called Varithena, or procedures such as Venaseal, or Clarivein.
Dr. Michael Nguyen
VENOUS SPECIALIST | Harvard Medical School
Dr. Michael Nguyen is a world renowned and Harvard trained vein specialist in Manhattan. He leads the team of vein doctors offering the highest level of care at the Spider and Varicose Vein Treatment Center.
As a pioneer in the treatment of varicose veins problems, Dr. Nguyen is considered a top vein expert for developing minimally invasive and customized treatment plans for the many symptoms of venous insufficiency, including leg cramps, skin discoloration on legs, spider vein removal, and restless leg syndrome.