Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

Chronic-Venous-Insufficiency-cvi-treatment-info-nyc-01What is chronic venous insufficiency? The veins in your legs play a key role in regulating blood circulation to the heart. However, when the valves in your veins don’t work efficiently, blood starts pooling in your legs, exerting pressure on the walls of your veins.

If your vein valves become damaged or dysfunctional, you probably have CVI –Chronic Venous Insufficiency. According to the Society for Vascular Surgery, CVI affects more than 40% of the U.S. population.

Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

Venous Insufficiency is a chronic condition; if you have CVI, you may experience heaviness and excruciating pain in your leg and ankle. Also, CVI may cause swelling in your legs called edema. Besides, you may feel tightness in the calf, and cramping and itching in the legs.

If not treated, the increased pressure on the veins may result in broken or burst capillaries –the tiny blood vessels in your legs. This leads to discoloration of the skin, especially near the ankles, turning it to reddish-brown.

The skin may also get harder or thicker. In such cases, an ulcer or open sore may develop on the inside of the ankle –and it is tough to heal. Varicose veins are also a milder indication of CVI.

Causes of Chronic Venous Insufficiency


Healthy veins in the body carry blood from the limbs towards the heart. The one-way valves in the leg veins prevent blood from flowing backward. However, a blood clot in the deep vein of your leg, called deep vein thrombosis, destroys the vein valve.

Blood thickens in a clump, forming a clot that leads to venous insufficiency. You are more likely to have CVI if you don’t exercise. Sitting in one position or standing for too long also exerts pressure on the veins, which eventually weakens the valve.

Varicose veins, on the other hand, impair the vein valves. The damaged valves allow blood to flow back in the wrong direction; as a result, veins become enlarge and twisted. You feel heaviness, throbbing, and aching in the leg.  Some other factors that make you susceptible to CVI include:

  • Your gender –women are more prone to CVI than men
  • Your age –especially if you are 50 or above
  • Chronic conditions, such as cancer
  • Smoking habits
  • A leg injury or muscle weakness


For CVI diagnosis, your doctor may conduct a detailed physical examination. They may also take into account your medical history to find evidence of venous insufficiency. For an accurate diagnosis, the doctor may need to perform some imaging tests to find the root cause of the problem.

The tests include a venogram or a duplex ultrasound –placing a small device on the affected skin over the veins. The sound waves help the doctor to check speed as well as the direction of the blood flow in the veins. In some cases, the doctor may recommend specific scans or X-rays to identify the other causes for leg swelling.

Treatment for Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI)

example-pic-chronic-venous-insufficiency-cvi-treatment-info-nyc-03The treatment plan for CVI varies from person to person. Before devising a plan, your doctor may consider many factors. For instance, the doctor may factor your age, medical history, and the symptoms of venous insufficiency.

Compression Stockings

Compression socks are one of the most common and effective treatments for chronic venous insufficiency. The elastic stockings help exert pressure on your lower leg and ankle. The pressure on the legs improves blood flow, thereby reducing swelling.


Sometimes, doctors may prescribe some medication for preventing blood clots. Also, they may prescribe an antibiotic, in case you develop infections or ulcers.

Non-Surgical Treatment

For CVI, stockings and medications might not prove enough, and you may require some non-surgical treatment.

Sclerotherapy: The doctor injects a chemical into the small and medium faulty vein. The solution irritates the wall of the veins, forcing them to stick together. This allows the blood to flow through healthy veins only, and the body absorbs the damaged vein.

Endovenous Laser Ablation Therapy (EVLT): It is a relatively new technique that uses a laser or high-frequency waves to destroy the vein. The vein is closed after ablation.

Phlebectomy: it is another minimally invasive procedure for removing the varicose veins. The doctor numbs certain spots on the legs and then removes the vein through small punctures.

Surgical Treatment

In a case of severe venous insufficiency, you may need one of the following surgical interventions:

Ligation and Stripping: The faulty vein is cut and is either removed or tied off to prevent blood leaks.

Minimally Invasive Endoscopic Surgery: During the procedure, the surgeon inserts a thin tube with a tiny camera at one end into the veins. The endoscope helps the doctor to locate the varicose veins and tie them.

Surgical Repair: damaged veins and vein valves are repaired through surgery

Vein bypass: In rare cases, the doctors may transplant a healthy vein in the upper thigh.

Final Thoughts – Get Treatment for CVI Today

Early diagnosis is the key to the best treatment of CVI. If you develop any of the symptoms, contact a vascular surgeon immediately. For painless sclerotherapy, EVLT, or other treatments, The Vein Treatment Center provides excellent services.

Contact us today and schedule an appointment with the best vascular specialists in NYC.

The Vein Treatment Center
Luis Navarro, MD,FACS
327 East 65th Street
New York, NY 10065


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