Chronic venous insufficiency or CVI is a condition in which the valves in the veins don’t work properly. The veins have the job of transporting blood back to the heart for oxygenation, and they have valves that keep the blood flowing in the correct direction. In CVI, the valves stop working, and the blood leaks backward and accumulates in a pool. CVI is most likely to affect the leg veins, for they have to work against gravity to push blood up towards the heart.
While chronic venous insufficiency can affect anybody, it is most common in women who are over 50 years old. It is extremely common and is believed to affect about 40 percent of the people in the United States.
What are the symptoms?
Untreated CVI grows progressively worse. Doctors use a classification tool called CEAP (Clinical signs, Etiological classification, Anatomical distribution, and Pathophysiological dysfunction) to categorize symptoms by their severity. It runs as follows:
C0 – No visible or palpable signs of disease, but the patient may complain of leg pain or heaviness
C1 – Spider veins or reticular veins
C2 – Varicose veins
C3 – Edema (swelling) without accompanying skin damage or discoloration
C4 – Edema with skin damage and discoloration
C5 – Healed ulcer with discolored skin
C6 – Ulcers that don’t heal
How is CVI treated?
Treatment for CVI will depend on the patient’s symptoms and their severity. For example, sclerotherapy is a common treatment for spider veins. A typical treatment takes between 20 and 40 minutes, and the patient will generally need one to four sessions to get the best results.
In sclerotherapy, the doctor injects a saline solution into the affected vein that causes it to swell and then collapse on itself. The body eventually absorbs the non-functional vein and reroutes the blood through healthy veins. The patient will have to wear a compression garment for about two weeks to prevent blood clots and promote healing.
Varicose veins are generally treated through a phlebectomy or radiofrequency ablation. A phlebectomy is a minimally-invasive procedure in which the surgeon removes the diseased veins through incisions made in the patient’s skin. The procedure can take anywhere between 30 and 90 minutes, and the patient is typically given a local anesthetic. Phlebectomies can be done on their own or along with another procedure like sclerotherapy.
In radiofrequency ablation, the doctor uses radiofrequency energy to heat and damage the diseased veins, so they become scarred and collapse. The effects are thus similar to those of sclerotherapy. The body will eventually reabsorb the damaged veins and reroute the blood through healthy veins.
The doctor will administer a local anesthetic to keep the patient comfortable. They will then insert a catheter into the diseased vein, and it will emit radiofrequency energy that will heat the vein and make it collapse. The patient will often have to wear a compression garment for about a week to aid healing. Radiofrequency ablation usually takes around 30 or 45 minutes.
If you are interested in learning more about chronic venous insufficiency and available treatments, reach out to the professionals here at Rejuveination located in Cincinnati, OH. Contact us today and schedule your consultation!