Venous insufficiency is a condition where the veins in your legs or feet can’t carry blood back up to the heart.
This can be due to valve or wall damage and can cause swelling, pain and in chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) ulcers can develop.
There are various treatments for the condition, both non-surgical and surgical with varying levels of effectiveness.
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Non-Surgical Treatments for Venous Insufficiency
This is the most common treatment for venous insufficiency.
Compression stockings or socks apply pressure to the lower leg which improves blood flow and reduces swelling.
They can be purchased from most pharmacies but it is important if you are dealing with venous insufficiency to get a prescription sock from a doctor so you know you are getting one that is right for your condition.
Keep Blood Flowing
Doctors suggest several methods to help increase blood flow and get the blood pumping back to the heart.
Keeping the foot elevated is one of them; you don’t have to do this all the time but if you can raise the leg above the heart for part of the day it should help the blood to flow.
Regular exercise also helps; as well as keeping you healthy it will help the blood pump and ensure you are not in a stationary position for too long, which can make the condition worse.
Obesity can increase your chances of developing venous insufficiency as well as worsen the condition if you already have it.
It is important to manage your weight and keep your body mass index (BMI) at a healthy level so as not to put more pressure on your veins than is necessary.
A nutritious diet and regular exercise can help. A doctor or dietician can provide advice on what the best weight for your height is and how to go about losing the weight.
Doctors can prescribe medicine to help combat venous insufficiency.
This is usually some form of blood thinner which will help the blood to flow through the veins.
Sometimes doctors will prescribe diuretics which draw excess body fluid through the kidneys.
This should help to reduce the swelling in the foot area.
If home remedies and compression stockings don’t work then your doctor may suggest sclerotherapy.
This process involves injecting a chemical into the vein which will scar it, blocking the vein and sealing it so it can’t pump blood.
This is usually done under local anesthetic. You will be required to wear compression stockings for a few weeks after the procedure.
Surgical Treatments for Venous Insufficiency
Ablation uses heat to seal off a vein. This is done with either laser or radiofrequency energy via a catheter inserted into the vein.
The blood will no longer flow through it afterward, moving through healthy veins instead.
Vein litigation involves tying off the vein so blood is no longer pumped through it.
It is similar to ablation in that the idea is that blood flows through other, healthy veins instead.
It is done under local anesthetic and involves making an incision in the leg and inserting and instrument to litigate it.
If it is a valve causing the blood not to flow then this can sometimes be fixed.
Doctors will either do it through an incision in the leg, like litigation or with a long catheter.
The idea is to get the valve to pump the blood properly again so the vein can still be used.
If the vein is very damaged then the decision may be made to remove it altogether, this is known as vein stripping.
Like litigation, an incision is made in the leg through which the vein is removed.
This is only done in very bad cases but it can be effective as the whole of the unhealthy part is taken away; the blood then has no option but to flow through the remaining healthy veins.