Venous Reflux in the Legs

What is Venous Reflux?

Venous reflux is a chronic vein condition of the legs that results from venous hypertension and over time causes a spectrum of skin disorders, such as stasis dermatitis, skin break down and ultimately, venous stasis ulceration.  The term reflux means; to cause to backflow. In the case of veins, blood backflows down the leg due to damaged valves.

venous reflux in leg
Venous reflux is the reversal of blood flow back down the leg due to damaged valves in the veins.

Venous Reflux Symptoms

  • Stasis Dermatitis
  • Leg Edema
  • Leg Achiness
  • Skin Inflammation
  • Varicose Veins
  • Skin Ulcers

Skin ulcers are the most difficult to treat, and it’s essential for your overall health and well-being to begin caring for your leg’s veins when you first observe symptoms. Treating venous reflux early tends to prevent progression to something more severe like venous ulcers.

Venous Reflux Causes

When venous reflux is left untreated it causes chronic venous hypertension. Venous hypertension weakens the inside lining of your vein’s walls and enlarged veins compress surrounding capillaries and lymphatic structures. This causes fluid and proteins to leak out into the tissue, resulting in fluid retention, or lower extremity swelling. Over time, swelling leads to skin changes and eventually, skin break down and ulceration.

 

Venous Reflux Treatment

Ablation works well for superficial venous reflux, but there is no treatment option for deep venous reflux. Superficial venous reflux is easy to treat with minimally invasive procedures, such as venous ablation or Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy. Correcting the underlying abnormality (shutting down the damaged sections of veins) thereby improving venous circulation is the primary goal of venous reflux therapy.

Graduated Compression

Compression stockings are the cornerstone of venous insufficiency treatment because they improve venous return from the legs. Simply put, stockings exert a gradient pressure to help blood flow up towards the heart, instead of refluxing back to the feet and legs.

Compression Stockings:

  • Reverse venous hypertension
  • Enhance skeletal-muscle
  • Facilitate venous circulation
  • Improve lymphatic drainage
  • Improve limb oxygenation

 

Compression Stockings for venous reflux
Compression stockings are a form of conservative management of venous reflux.

 

Vitamins or Supplements

Horse chestnut, or aescin, is a plant that contains medicinal properties that have been found useful in treating varicose veins and phlebitis (swollen veins). Its extract contains a substance that thins the blood and promotes diuresis, helping reduce lower extremity fluid retention. Similar to taking other blood thinning medications, you will need to stop taking this drug before surgery. If you have diabetes, liver or kidney disease, talk to your Physician before taking this supplement. Horse chestnut can lower blood sugars and worsen liver or kidney disease.

Skin Care

If you have venous insufficiency, taking care of your skin helps avoid irritation, preventing skin break down. Apply recommended moisturizer at least twice daily to help maintain intact skin. Though, some over-the-counter creams may cause blistering and worsen your skin’s condition. Before applying, check-in with your Doctor to ensure the ointment is safe to use.

Find Your Vein Specialist

If you notice bluish, bulging veins underneath the surface of your skin and are experiencing leg swelling that goes away at night, reach out to your Doctor and schedule an appointment as soon as possible! You may find that you qualify for varicose vein treatments, such as Endovenous Laser therapy or Radiofrequency Ablation, to treat superficial varicosities. Though for some, thermal ablation is only a part of the therapeutic picture and may require further medical management to treat the underlying problem.

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