The Stages of Chronic Venous Insufficiency: What to Expect 

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By BASS Vein Center
The Stages of Chronic Venous Insufficiency: What to Expect 
August 9, 2022

Chronic venous insufficiency, also known as CVI, is a progressive vascular condition. It is caused by increased blood pressure in the veins resulting from faulty valves. Chronic venous insufficiency happens as the valves that push the blood up towards the heart become weakened over time. When the blood isn’t able to be ushered back to the heart, it causes it to pool in the lower extremities. 

Chronic Venous Insufficiency Stages

As mentioned, CVI is a progressive medical condition, and it is characterized by five distinct stages. Below are the five chronic venous insufficiency stages and the options available to treat them. 

Stage 1: Spider Veins

Spider veins affect the capillaries and present as tiny red or purple fine lines at the surface of the skin. 

Stage 2: Varicose Veins

Varicose veins are swollen, knotted-looking veins that typically protrude at the surface of the skin. They can cause symptoms like itching, burning, throbbing, heaviness, or tingling sensations. 

Stage 3: Leg Swelling

Leg swelling, also known as edema, can be described as a tight feeling in the legs. It’s a tell-tale sign of most circulatory disorders.

Stage 4: Skin Discoloration

The discoloration that happens with chronic venous insufficiency is referred to as venous stasis dermatitis. It commonly appears as bruising around the affected veins. 

Stage 5: Venous Ulcers

Venous ulcers appear from a breakdown of tissue. Sometimes fluid may leak out of the malfunctioning vein and seep into the surrounding tissue. 

How to Treat Venous Insufficiency

There are many treatment options available for the various stages of chronic venous insufficiency. They include:

Conservative Therapy. A conservative therapy approach can be very beneficial to those with mild symptoms. To alleviate painful symptoms, the main objective of conservative therapy is to improve blood flow in the legs. 

Regular exercise is a big key to circulatory health. When you do experience increased swelling in the legs, ankles, and feet, wearing compression apparel can be an effective solution. There are several types of graduated stockings, socks, and sleeves that are subtle and comfortable to wear. Keeping legs elevated when sitting down for long stretches of time will help promote better blood flow, as well. 

Medication. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, are very effective at reducing swelling and alleviating pain. Sometimes in severe cases, prescription pain killers might be necessary on a short-term basis. If there’s a history of blood clots, anticoagulants might be issued to reduce the risk of any new clots forming. 

Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy. Radiofrequency ablation therapy (RFA) is a minimally invasive procedure.  It can be highly successful in treating chronic venous insufficiency in the right patient. The procedure involves the use of a catheter to apply heat directly into the affected vein. This process closes the vein, improving blood flow. 

VenaSeal Procedure. This procedure offers many benefits to patients who are looking for a comfortable and fast recovery from venous treatment. VenaSeal delivers a medical adhesive directly into the affected vein using ultrasound guidance. It works to apply pressure to close off the blood supply to the affected area.

Sclerotherapy. This option is typically used to treat chronic venous insufficiency conditions that are moderate to severe. The procedure involves a chemical being injected into the affected veins. This causes scarring in the veins so that they can no longer carry blood and they disappear into the surrounding tissue. 

Ambulatory Phlebectomy. This surgical procedure is performed outpatient through a series of small incisions made on the skin. They are carefully made directly over the varicose vein being treated. A small phlebectomy hook is eased through the small incision to remove the malfunctioning vein from the body.

Treating Venous Insufficiency with BASS

At BASS, treating venous insufficiency is our specialty. We offer a myriad of solutions to improve your quality of life. Performing surgeries since 1988, the BASS Vein Center offers five different vascular procedures or vein treatments. These procedures include Conservative Vein Treatment, Radiofrequency Ablation Therapy, VenaSeal™, Sclerotherapy, and Ambulatory Phlebectomy. 

The BASS Vein Center offers 7 convenient locations. The major cities we serve include Alameda, Alamo, Antioch, Berkeley, Brentwood, Concord, Danville, Lafayette, Oakland, San Ramon, and Walnut Creek. Our offices treat a variety of conditions, from varicose veins to spider veins and even chronic venous disease. Over the course of 15 years, our offices have completed more than 24,000 vein procedures. We have six vascular surgeons and four general surgeons at The Vein Center. Schedule a consultation with one of our expert vein doctors today. We are eager to help you improve vein function and show you a life that is free from pain associated with your chronic vein conditions.

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