What is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

Many people spend hours on their feet every day, either working or living busy lifestyles. Those who frequently suffer from swollen, aching legs may have a vascular condition called chronic venous insufficiency. 

The Vascular Disease Foundation affirms that as many as 20% of adult Americans suffer from this troubling condition. That makes chronic venous insufficiency quite common, although you may never heard of it. 

Our vascular surgeons at Vascular Associates of San Diego can diagnose and treat this condition to provide you with relief and a better quality of life. Get the information you need and help for improved living in and around San Diego, California. 

The basics of chronic venous insufficiency explained

Chronic (frequent or long-term) venous insufficiency describes a malfunction in the veins that return blood to your heart and lungs. 

Normal blood flow exits the heart and lungs through arteries that carry blood throughout the body. Veins carry used and oxygen-depleted blood back for recycling and re-oxygenation. 

Veins contain tiny valves that open and close to prevent blood from flowing the wrong direction due to gravity. CVI occurs when these valves in your veins malfunction and allow blood to flow backward and/or pool in the veins. 

This condition is found most frequently in the legs, due to their distance from the heart and the pull of gravity, but CVI can occur anywhere in your body. 

Risk factors for chronic venous insufficiency

Chronic venous insufficiency is more common in women, and everyone’s risk of developing the condition increases with age. Other major risk factors include: 

You can ease mitigate some of these risk factors with lifestyle changes, such as improving your diet and exercise routine and quitting smoking. 

Signs and symptoms of CVI

Most people suffering from CVI initially complain of aching legs and mild swelling in the ankles. This is often blamed on worn-out shoes, too many hours on your feet, too much salt, or other reasons. 

Disregarding the possibility of CVI can allow it to develop and manifest in more severe symptoms, such as: 

Undiagnosed and untreated CVI allows excess pressure from pooling blood to trigger bursting blood vessels. This appears as reddish-brown patches on the skin. This skin is weak and susceptible to wounds that are difficult to heal due to poor circulation. 

Treatment for chronic venous insufficiency

We at Vascular Associates of San Diego tailor your treatment for CVI according to your symptoms, your overall health, and the severity of your condition. Some of our possible treatment plans include: 

Changes in your lifestyle

Lifestyle changes are typically an essential part of preventing and treating any stage of CVI. Modify your work habits and lifestyle to allow for breaks from standing and get regular exercise, lose excess weight, make better dietary choices, and stop smoking.  

Our vascular specialists may also recommend keeping your legs elevated when possible and wearing compression stockings to improve blood circulation. 


We may also add medications to your CVI treatment plan to improve blood flow, prevent the formation of blood clots, or heal troublesome sores. 

Noninvasive treatments

To improve circulation, we may recommend sclerotherapy or endovenous thermal ablation to eliminate the problematic vein. Sclerotherapy uses a chemical injected into the vein to cause its collapse. Your body then gradually absorbs it. 

Endovenous thermal ablation uses a high-frequency laser to heat and seal off the vein, which is then also reabsorbed by your body. 

Other treatments for CVI

Other treatments for CVI are available. We recommend them based on the severity of your condition. One of these can be surgery to remove and replace offending veins to restore sufficient circulation.  

Don’t ignore aching legs and swollen ankles. Contact our La Mesa, California, office to schedule an appointment. We can evaluate your condition for CVI or other vascular conditions.

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