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How Chronic Venous Insufficiency Changes Your Body

Last updated: March 7, 2019
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Chronic venous insufficiency. What a mouthful.

This disorder is something that, a matter of just a few years ago, often times went undertreated. The lack of treatment for chronic venous insufficiency was a result of a few things:

  1. Lack of technology
  2. Lack of education/knowledge
  3. Lack of awareness

However, within the last 10 years, much research has been conducted on this vein disorder that affects a large portion of the population, primarily females.

As a result of that research, more awareness has been raised and more knowledge has been gained. This all has come at a time when technological advances in the medical world are at an all-time high and seem to keep getting better.

Thus, things are looking up for those people suffering from chronic venous insufficiency.

However, it is crucial that not only those treating venous insufficiency understand it — it is crucial that you do as well.

Here, we dive into chronic venous insufficiency and how it changes your body — because one of the best ways to put yourself at low risk of developing this disease or avoiding it altogether is to understand what it is, and what to look out for.

What is chronic venous insufficiency?

Let’s start with the basics: what is it?

Chronic venous insufficiency according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, something that “occurs when your leg veins don’t allow blood to flow back up to your heart.”

They go on to say that “normally, the valves in your veins make sure that blood flows toward your heart. But when these valves don’t work well, blood can also flow backward. This can cause blood to collect (pool) in your legs.”

Doesn’t sound too fun, does it?

What causes it?

Like most vein problems, there are a number of reasons a person may develop vein issues such as chronic venous insufficiency.

The top ones include:

  • Obesity
  • Hormone changes (including menopause and pregnancy)
  • Leg damage as a result of injury or surgery
  • History of blood clots
  • Family history of venous insufficiency
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Smoking
  • Lack of exercise
  • High blood pressure

How would I know if I had it?

The only way to be 100% sure that what you have is indeed chronic venous insufficiency, you would need to schedule a consultation with a vein specialist.

However, there are some signs that you can watch out for that will give you a good hint something is amiss.

Here are some of the disorder’s common symptoms:

  • Varicose veins
  • Leg ulcers
  • Swollen legs and ankles
  • Tightness
  • Itchiness
  • Pain when walking
  • Dilated veins
  • Skin changing color to tan or reddish-brown

The above things are not a guarantee that what you’re suffering from is chronic venous insufficiency, but maybe a hint that it is time you head to a doctor to get things checked out.

What changes will I experience?

If you do indeed have chronic venous insufficiency, you can expect changes to occur that are along the same lines as the symptoms above.

The most common change you’ll notice is dilated veins. Your veins will widen with this disorder and will appear as either spider veins — blue, thin veins — or varicose veins — wider veins on the surface.

Swelling is also something that chronic venous insufficiency will bring about. This swelling can either be something that you suffer throughout the day or simply at the end of the day when you finally give your legs a rest. However, note that swelling is most often at its lowest intensity in the morning, due to the fact that elevating your legs (as you do while sleeping), causes swelling to go down.

The change in color of your legs is something you should expect as well. This happens because weakened veins cause the blood in your legs to pool, which then causes your skin to become inflamed. This inflammation can take the form of:

  • Itchiness
  • Dryness
  • Open sores
  • Redness
  • Fluid oozing
  • Hard, shiny areas

And, ulcers, they don’t sound pretty, and sure aren’t pretty either. These ulcers are most commonly found on the ankle but sometimes occur on the shin as well.

These ulcers are essentially sores that are open, and will not heal for months, possibly even years. They are painful and certainly uncomfortable and have been known to ooze fluid often.

How can I treat it?

If you’re faced with chronic venous insufficiency, chances are good you’re curious how you can treat it. Well, on your own, the best way to handle this disorder is to do what you can to lessen the severity of the symptoms.

Here are some things you can try:

Elevating your legs.

With just 30 minutes a few times a day of elevating, you’ll find a decrease in the swelling of your legs and see your blood flow improve.

By elevating your legs, you are helping your venous ulcers to improve. People with mild chronic venous insufficiency find that elevating their legs may be all the treatment they need, while people who suffer from a more severe form of the disorder may need additional treatment.

Compression stockings.

Depending on the severity of your chronic venous insufficiency, you may be able to get stockings just over the counter at the drugstore. If your disorder is more serious, you’ll need prescription-level stockings.

These stocking work to compress your leg so that your blood flow is able to improve and flow more smoothly, thus avoiding pooling.


This is for more serious cases of chronic venous insufficiency, but don’t worry — it is not a major surgery. At Vein Clinics of America, we perform sclerotherapy on a regular basis, and our patients have incredible success with it.

The procedure simply involves injecting the vein with something that causes it to collapse. While the damaged vein remains in your leg, it is no longer responsible for trying to carry your blood, so it will no longer suffer and cause you trouble.

If the above sounds familiar and you think you may be suffering from chronic venous disease, then schedule a free consultation with a vein specialist at Vein Clinics of America today. We have been in business the longest of any vein clinic in America, and have successfully treated the most people.

Putting your trust in the hands of VCA ensures that your vein health will improve, and your vein problems will become a thing of the past.

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