The veins are tasked with the job of returning blood to the heart. To help them get the job done, they have one-way valves designed to keep the blood flowing in the right direction. When the valves become too weak or fail to function properly, it causes blood to pool in your veins, making them swell and cause pain.
Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) may affect as much as 40% of the people in the United States. This condition is more common in patients with varicose veins, especially women who have undergone multiple pregnancies and in people who had had previous history of deep venous thrombosis (DVT). Treating chronic venous insufficiency is important in preventing serious complications like vein ulcer bleeding and leg ulcers.
Venous ulcers, also known as vein ulcers, are open sores that can form when CVI has been allowed to persist for too long without treatment. Most venous ulcers appear on the lower leg, usually somewhere above the ankle.
CVI causes these open wounds to develop because the increased pressure and continual buildup of fluid prevent nutrients and oxygen from getting to the tissues. A lack of oxygen and nutrients causes cells to die, which damages the tissue and makes it prone to wound formation. Venous ulcers can be very slow to heal. Signs and symptoms of vein ulcers include:
First and foremost, vein ulcer wounds should be kept clean and bandaged to prevent infection. The mainstay of treatment is compression dressings, sometimes called Unna's boots. Once an ulcer occurs, it takes an average of three months to heal, with even the best of care.
However, to truly treat a venous ulcer it is also essential to address the underlying cause of the chronic venous insufficiency by improving the blood flow in the legs. This is often accomplished by closing the veins around the ulcer, using injections (sclerotherapy) or vein closure devices (laser Venefit). These treatments frequently allow the ulcers, if present, to heal much more quickly, and will help prevent them from recurring.
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