Varicose Veins, Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Varicose veins are veins that have become swollen enough to be seen through the legs. This condition affects the superficial veins, which lie closest to the skin. The affected veins appear as blue bulging, twisted lumps under the skin. It is estimated that varicose veins affect up to 40 million Americans, almost all of them women.

Varicose veins appear when excess blood pools in the superficial veins of the leg. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can cause this to happen, increasing the pressure on the vein walls. This pressure stretches the vein itself, weakening the internal valves that pump blood back up to the heart. As a result, the leg veins retain blood and swell.

In addition to the cosmetic concerns they present, varicose veins can also produce aches or fatigue in the legs, and may result in sores, redness, rashes or night cramps. Severe varicose veins can lead to deep vein thrombosis.

Treatments for varicose veins include:

  • Compression garments to prevent blood pooling
  • Sclerotherpy, in which a Temple vascular surgeon injects a chemical to shrink the veins
  • Ablation, in which a Temple vascular surgeon uses a heated catheter to destroy vein tissue
  • Laser treatments, in which a Temple vascular surgeon uses laser energy to destroy vein tissue
  • Vein stripping, or the surgical removal of the saphenous vein in the leg

Learn more about Temple's treatments for varicose veins.

Similar to varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition that occurs when blood pools in the superficial leg veins. This typically results from weakened or destroyed valves within the veins, since the valves are responsible for pumping blood upwards against gravity. CVI can occur with or without the presence of varicose veins.

CVI can result from long-term high blood pressure in the leg veins, congenital defects in the valves of these veins, deep vein thrombosis and phlebitis.

Symptoms of CVI include swelling or tightness in the calf, ankle swelling, or legs that feel tired, achy or restless. In severe cases, ulcers may appear on the lower part of the legs.

Treatments for CVI include:

  • Compression garments
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Ablation
  • Vein stripping

Learn more about Temple's treatments for CVI.

To schedule an appointment with a Temple vascular surgeon, click here or call 1-800-TEMPLE-MED (1-800-836-7536).