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Your Veins Contain A Series Of Tiny Internal Valve

Mar 22

Each one-way valve is designed to facilitate optimal blood flow, against the force of gravity, toward your heart. If these valves become damaged veins in legs or malfunction, they'll fail to do their job - and the blood will begin to pool in the vein. This is the underlying cause of varicose veins, which are enlarged, knotted clusters of blue, purple or red veins visible on the skin's surface. It's also the underlying cause of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which is a condition that leads to a variety of symptoms, including pain and a feeling of heaviness in your legs.

The primary risk factor for developing CVI is age, and this is especially true for women. Over time, the wear and tear on your veins' valves causes them to break down, leading to damage or malfunction. A number of other factors can contribute to this wear and tear, including obesity and a sedentary lifestyle; hormonal changes associated with pregnancy, menstruation and menopause; sex and use of birth control pills; and family history.

If you develop CVI, the first signs are usually achy legs that get worse after long periods of sitting or standing still. Then, as the disease progresses, you may notice the appearance of swollen and distended, or varicose, veins. You might also experience itching or tenderness over the affected area. Eventually, you might develop a painful blood clot in a deep leg vein, a life-threatening condition called a deep vein thrombosis or DVT.

DVT can be a serious health concern because it can lead to a blood clot in the lung (pulmonary embolism). The signs and symptoms of a DVT are very similar to those of CVI, but they're generally more severe.

Your Center For Advanced Vein Care specialist will review your medical history and do a physical exam before recommending a treatment option. Your doctor may use ultrasound imaging to guide a catheter, which is a thin, hollow tube, into the damaged vein. Then he or she will use electrodes at the tip of the catheter to heat the vein wall in 20-second bursts. This causes the vein to close, and the body naturally reroutes blood to healthy veins. This procedure, which is known as radiofrequency occlusion or Venefit, takes less than an hour, and you can go home the same day. Your doctor might also inject a medication or foam into the damaged vein, which seals it shut. Another treatment, called sclerotherapy, involves injecting salt water or another chemical into the damaged vein to cause it to harden and collapse. Other treatments, such as phlebectomy and endoscopic vein stripping, are minimally invasive procedures that require small surgical incisions to remove the affected vein. Your doctor will discuss the best options for your situation and goals.