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What is Venous Insufficiency?

Venous insufficiency is a condition that occurs when the veins of the legs are not working properly and have difficulty sending blood back to the heart. Chronic venous insufficiency is another name for the condition, due to its long-term nature. Venous insufficiency can cause what is known as “venous stasis,” a condition where the blood collects or pools in the veins.

Other names include:
Venous reflux disease
Chronic venous stasis
Chronic venous disease

Venous insufficiency is associated with Varicose Veins, which are enlarged, swollen and twisted veins close to the surface of the skin that often appear blue or purple. They can occur almost anywhere, but most commonly occur in the legs. Spider Veins are also common, which are smaller red, purple, and blue twisted vessels that are visible under the surface of the skin.

Venous insufficiency can also cause capillaries to burst— leading to local tissue inflammation and internal tissue damage. This condition can cause skin ulcerations. These venous stasis ulcers are difficult to heal and can easily become infected. If infection is not controlled, it can spread to the surrounding tissue and cause a condition known as Cellulitis.  Though there are many symptoms associated with Venous insufficiency. For those who do not have any symptoms, Venous Insufficiency is especially dangerous because patients may not be alerted to this serious problem.

Schedule your consultation at ASA today.

Causes & Risk Factors

Venous insufficiency is a condition where your veins struggle to return blood from your limbs back to your heart. Malfunctioning vein valves and a history of blood clots are the most common causes of Venous insufficiency. With Chronic Venous Insufficiency, the vein walls become weakened while the valves are damaged. This, in turn, causes the blood to leak backwards and remain in the vessel and becomes more pronounced upon standing. When a blood clot gets stuck in a deep leg vein, this is a serious condition known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).  Venous insufficiency that occurs due to DVT is also known as Post-Thrombotic Syndrome. Up to 30% of patients with DVT will develop Chronic Venous Insufficiency within 10 years of diagnosis.  Although Venous Insufficiency also may occur from pelvic tumors or vascular malformations, in some cases, there is no cause determined.  

Risk Factors

There are several Risk Factors that can cause the veins to stop functioning properly, including:

Sitting or standing for long periods
History of DVT 
Family History of Venous Insufficiency 
Taller height
High Blood Pressure
Smoking (any history)

Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Varicose Vein and Spider Vein symptoms include:
Throbbing legs
Tired legs
Dull Cramping aching
Feeling of heaviness in your feet
Irritated or cracked skin
Itching and tingling
Changes in skin color on the affected leg(s)
Slow-healing wounds or ulcers on the legs or ankles
Leg Pain
Pain, relieved when legs are raised
Pain, worsens upon standing

Venous insufficiency is more common in women than it is in men and is more likely to occur in individuals aged 50 years or older. Additionally, it is estimated that 40% of people in the U.S. suffer from Chronic Venous Insufficiency. 

Venous insufficiency can lead to potentially severe consequences— most notably, a Pulmonary Embolism. Pulmonary Embolisms occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the lungs and starves the lung tissue of oxygen.  Treatment becomes more complex as Venous Insufficiency is a condition where your veins struggle to return blood to your heart.  Due to these factors, watching for the following symptoms and getting early treatment are important. 

Are you experiencing signs and symptoms of venous insufficiency? 

Schedule your consultation at ASA today.

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Dr. Daniels is the Medical Director of Daniels Vein Center, and is a highly skilled vascular specialist.

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Dr. Boris Volshteyn is a plastic surgeon dedicated to excellence in plastic & reconstructive surgery such as breast augmentation, liposuction, and facelifts. Boris Volshteyn MD plastic surgery offices are located in New York and New Jersey. This website is a plastic surgery resource for viewing before and after photos, and learning about various procedures.

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