More than a third of Americans have varicose veins, according to the Society for Vascular Surgery. If you’re one of them, it’s tempting to think those twisted, bulging veins are nothing more than a cosmetic nuisance.

But varicose veins can be a sign of a serious medical problem — and without treatment, they can even lead to a problem called chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).

At Vein & Cardiovascular Center, with offices in Orlando, Sebring, and Davenport, Florida, Ashish Pal, MD, treats both varicose veins and CVI to help patients improve their circulation and their overall health, too.

Varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency

When you think of how your blood circulates, you probably think about the heart providing the pumping action to keep your blood moving. But the heart has “helpers” — tiny valves inside your veins that open and close rapidly to keep blood traveling back to your heart.

Valves open in rapid succession, helping to maintain the blood flow from the areas of your body farthest from your heart. Because they open and close in order, the valves also keep blood moving in one direction.

Sometimes, though, these tiny valves fail or malfunction. When that happens, blood backs up and slows down, pooling up behind the valves and causing the vein walls to bulge.

In time, valve damage increases, causing even more problems with circulation. This condition is called chronic venous insufficiency, and varicose veins are both a symptom and a cause.

The importance of treatment

Treating varicose veins helps reestablish normal circulation patterns. However, if you ignore your varicose veins or mistakenly think of them as only cosmetic, CVI can become a lot worse.

Over time, untreated varicose veins can cause symptoms like:

  • Heaviness or fatigue in your legs
  • Itchy skin
  • Crawling sensations on your skin
  • Swelling in your feet or ankles
  • Painful leg cramps
  • Restless legs when you’re trying to sleep

Varicose veins and CVI also cause changes in the texture of your skin, making skin thinner and dramatically increasing your risk of developing deep skin ulcers — sores that are hard to treat and a lot more prone to serious infections.

CVI is most common in the legs, but it can also occur in your arms or in the veins in your pelvis. That’s why it’s important to have varicose veins checked right away, no matter where they are.

What’s more, CVI isn’t always associated with varicose veins. If you have any of the symptoms listed above — in your legs or your arms — you should schedule a vein evaluation right away.

Don’t ignore varicose veins

Varicose veins aren’t a normal part of getting older. These veins are a clear signal something’s not right with your circulation. Having varicose veins evaluated is the best way to identify potential underlying medical problems, like CVI.

To schedule your varicose vein evaluation, call the Vein & Cardiovascular Center location nearest you or book an appointment online today.

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