Varicose Veins vs. Venous Insufficiency

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Enlarged, bulging, gnarled, and discolored veins that most commonly arise in the lower extremities, varicose veins are universally reviled for a number of reasons. Many people seek medical attention for varicose veins for purely aesthetic reasons…and who can blame them? This embarrassing condition can cause otherwise youthful and healthy skin to appear old, unwholesome, and downright ugly.

However, varicose veins may also be an indication of a far more serious vein condition called venous insufficiency. Individuals with venous insufficiency can often experience serious circulatory problems, and in extreme cases, can even face the loss of life or limb.

Venous Insufficiency Defined

Vein insufficiency disease (also called vein disease) occurs when blood flow is seriously inhibited, causing blood to pool under the force of gravity in the lower extremities. In addition to enlarged and darkened veins, common symptoms associated with this condition include…

  • Pain (aching, burning, and tenderness)
  • Swelling
  • Cramping
  • Numbness
  • Leg heaviness
  • Restless leg syndrome

The two main causes of vein disease are varicose veins and blood clots. Healthy veins promote the free and easy flow of blood from the limbs back toward the heart. However, veins that suffer from clotting or from the valve damage associated with varicose veins fail to facilitate this flow and, in extreme cases, prevent it entirely.

Conditions that commonly lead to blood clots, varicose veins, and vein disease in general include…

  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer
  • Smoking
  • Muscle weakness, injury, and/or trauma in the legs
  • Inactivity
  • Swelling in a superficial vein
  • Genetics

Varicose Veins and Venous Insufficiency Treatment

In the past, the only viable medical treatment for varicose veins and vein disease was the complete surgical removal of affected veins in a process known as “vein stripping.” Today, however, individuals who are concerned about vein health can choose among a significant number of noninvasive and effective vein treatments options including…

  • Duplex Ultrasound – An extremely valuable diagnostic tool, duple ultrasound allows doctors to see venous networks and beneath the skin. The “duplex” part of duplex ultrasound refers to the fact that two different forms of ultrasound are employed in this process. Traditional ultrasound technology creates pictures by bouncing sound waves off of blood vessels, while Doppler ultrasound allows doctors to examine and monitor the progression of blood flow.
  • Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) – This modality employs ultrasound to apply a beam of laser light to collapse diseased veins and reroute blood flow to healthy veins nearby.
  • Ambulatory Phlebectomy – The physical removal of diseased veins through a series of tiny incisions. Like EVLT, this procedure improves circulation by sending blood through existing healthy veins.

For More Information

If you have questions about varicose veins, venous insufficiency, and the various treatment modalities for each, contact Dr. Gamal Wazni and the vascular specialists at Tampa, Florida’s United Vein Centers. Interested parties can schedule a free consultation by visiting the official United Vein Centers website.