Chronic venous insufficiency is a condition where there is a poor venous return from the legs to the heart. This is usually related to incompetent or leaking veins in the legs. The condition is often associated with leg swelling and varicose veins. Varicose veins are more common in women than in men and may be associated with previous pregnancies, trauma to the legs (such as a fracture), previous surgery or previous clots in the legs. There is often a family tendency to varicose veins and there might also be inherited tendencies for the blood to clot more easily.
Patients often complain of aching and swelling of the legs, which is worse at the end of the day. They may have prominent varicose veins and there may be brownish discoloration of the legs, particularly below the knees and around the ankles. The legs can often be very itchy.
If you have leg swelling and symptomatic varicose veins, your doctor will probably want to do some ultrasound studies to examine the veins in your legs. In some cases, it would be beneficial to treat the leaky veins either with sclerotherapy or endovenous laser therapy.
For milder cases, wearing knee high elastic support stockings can be very helpful in controlling symptoms. If your legs are dry and itchy, the dermatologist can prescribe a steroid cream which would help relieve your symptoms. Moisturizers will also be helpful for itching. If your legs swell as the end of the day, it is also helpful to elevate your legs above the level of the heart. This means lying down on the couch or on the bed, with your feet propped up on pillows.
If you suspect that you have a venous insufficiency condition, it is important to treat it because you are more likely to develop chronic hard-to-heal wounds after trauma to the legs. Don’t wait, call our office at (617) 731-1600, or contact us online, to book a consultation to get advice from one of our SkinCare Physicians’ specialists.