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      What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

      What Is Chronic Venous Insufficiency?

      Experts estimate that as many as 40% of American women and up to 20% of men suffer from some degree of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). The problem is, a lot of people don’t know they have it, which means they’re not getting the treatment they need to stay healthy.

      At Middle Georgia Vascular Surgery Center & Vein Solutions in Warner Robins, Georgia, Allison Burkett, MD, FACS, focuses on advanced techniques to diagnose and treat chronic venous insufficiency. Dr. Burkett wants to help you spot symptoms as early as possible, so here’s what you should know about CVI.

      The ABCs of CVI

      Most of us know the heart does most of the work pumping blood throughout the body. But by the time your blood gets all the way to your fingers and toes, it needs a little help to keep moving back to your lungs and heart.

      To facilitate this blood flow up your legs against gravity, there are tiny valves inside your veins. These valves open and shut rapidly to keep your blood moving in the right direction. CVI happens when the valves malfunction, and blood flow slows down. When your blood backs up, it presses on the vein walls, creating weak spots and “bulges” that show up as varicose veins.

      You can develop CVI at any age, but it’s more common as you get older as wear and tear take their toll on your veins and the tiny valves they contain.

      Other risk factors for CVI include:

      • Sedentary lifestyle
      • Prolonged period of reduced activity
      • Spending a lot of time on your feet
      • Heavy lifting
      • Being pregnant
      • Obesity
      • Family history of CVI or varicose veins
      • High blood pressure

      CVI is also related to deep vein thrombosis, a serious medical problem that happens when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in your leg. Without prompt treatment, the clot can break loose and travel to your lungs, creating a life-threatening situation.

      CVI symptoms

      Varicose veins might be the most visible symptom of CVI, but there are other symptoms to look for, including:

      • Leg swelling
      • Leathery skin on your legs
      • Tiredness or heaviness in your legs
      • Leg pain, cramps, or aching
      • Itching or flaking skin
      • Areas of skin discoloration
      • Sores on your legs or feet (called stasis ulcers)

      The symptoms of CVI can be difficult to spot early on, which is why having a vein evaluation is important if you have risk factors for CVI, including being age 50 or older.

      Treating CVI

      CVI treatment usually consists of a combination of lifestyle changes and medical treatments. Lifestyle changes include things like:

      • Losing extra weight
      • Being more physically active
      • Reducing time standing on your feet
      • Elevating your legs when you can
      • Wearing compression stockings

      Medical treatments typically focus on eliminating the varicose veins to restore normal circulation in your legs. Dr. Burkett offers different varicose vein treatments, depending on each patient’s needs.


      Sclerotherapy uses injections of special chemical solutions that irritate the damaged veins, causing them to seal off.


      The ClosureFast technique relies on radiofrequency (RF) energy applied to the vessel walls. The RF energy causes the vessel walls to collapse, sealing the vein and preventing future blood flow.

      VenaSeal™ Closure

      During a VenaSeal treatment, Dr. Burkett administers a special adhesive solution designed to seal the damaged vein.

      With all of these treatments, blood flow is rerouted to healthy neighboring veins.

      Most of us don’t think about our circulatory system — until something goes wrong. If you have varicose veins or other signs of CVI, having a vascular evaluation is an important step in preventing those symptoms from getting worse. To schedule your evaluation, call our office or book an appointment online today.

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