Also known as venous insufficiency, venous disease is usually associated with varicose veins and leg heaviness. In simplest terms, it is a lack of blood flow towards the heart from the legs.
What causes venous disease?
There are two main types of vessels in the body; you can think of them as plumbing. Arteries take blood from the heart to different parts of the body and veins take blood back to the heart. Within your veins are important valves that open and close, directing the blood toward your heart. Venous disease occurs when the valves become stretched or flabby, allowing blood to flow down and pool in the legs.
You’re at a higher risk for venous disease if you’re over 50 or have a family history of this disorder. Other risk factors include obesity, pregnancy, smoking, inactivity, or injury to the legs.
What are the symptoms of venous disease?
Those with venous disease often suffer from swelling in the legs and ankles, pain when standing, and leg cramps (especially at night when resting). Patients often describe a feeling of heaviness or fatigue in their legs. Varicose veins and discolored skin are also signs of venous disease.
Many don’t realize the long-term effects of leaving venous disease untreated. Varicose veins are not the end result. Eventually, ulcers form in the leg and can require surgery.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins appear as large, dilated veins just beneath the skin, typically in the legs, calves, and ankles. These are veins with malfunctioning valves, and over time, they can become weak and enlarged, resulting in bulging veins.
What are the best ways to prevent venous disease?
Preventing venous disease can be as simple as lifestyle changes. Either sitting or standing in one place for too long keeps blood from circulating. If you’re sitting in a chair most of the day or standing in one spot for extended periods of time, be sure to take breaks and walk around. Quitting smoking can help minimize your risk. And, as usual, exercise and a healthy diet really can make all the difference.
What are the treatment options for venous disease?
Venous disease is not curable, but can be treated. Many years ago, vein stripping was a common procedure. Fortunately, modern techniques are minimally invasive and no longer require patients to have a hospital overnight stay. Typically, improving blood flow will encourage blood to move in the correct direction. A more common first-line treatment for venous disease is wearing compression stockings.
EndoVenous Laser Treatment and Radio Frequency Ablation are state-of-the-art treatments used by Virginia Interventional Vascular Associates (VIVA). These allow for:
- Treatments lasting less than an hour
- 93 – 98% success rate
- Immediate relief from symptoms
- Rapid return to normal activities
- Minimal to no scarring
If you have the symptoms of venous disease or have visible varicose veins, call a vascular specialist at VIVA (540-654-9118). Treatment can lead to a relief from symptoms and healthier blood flow.