If you have been diagnosed with venous insufficiency, your doctor will likely prescribe compression stockings to treat it. So what is venous insufficiency (VI)?
Veins in your legs carry oxygenated blood to the muscles in your legs and feet, and then move the oxygen depleted blood back to your lungs and heart to start the process all over. If your veins weaken, and the valves in your veins become damaged allowing blood to flow backward, you have venous insufficiency.
Visible signs of venous insufficiency are varicose veins, redness or other skin color changes around the ankles, heavy, aching legs, thickening and hardening of the skin on the ankles and shins, pain that increases when standing and decreases when legs are raised, wounds on the legs that are slow to heal.
If you suffer from any of these symptoms, see your doctor. Diagnosis is often done by a physical exam. Confirmation of the diagnosis is accomplished by a duplex ultrasound exam that is painless, and measures the flow of blood in your legs.
For mild to moderate cases of venous insufficiency, wearing compression stockings is often all that’s needed to alleviate the symptoms. More serious cases may require sclerotherapy, vein stripping, angioplasty or a bypass. Venous insufficiency often gets worse over time, so taking care of yourself and treating it early is important to slow the progress of this condition.