There are many different causes for leg swelling. A common cause for leg swelling is venous insufficiency, or leaky veins. Having leaky veins is the same reason some people develop varicose veins.
Muscle contractions in your lower legs act as pumps, and elastic vein walls help blood return to your heart. Tiny valves in your veins open as blood flows toward your heart then close to stop blood from flowing backward.
Normally, the one-way valves in your leg veins keep blood moving up toward the heart. When the valves do not work properly, they allow blood to back up into the vein. This in return causes leg swelling.
Common Causes of Leg Swelling
- Vein Problems
- Heart Problems
- Kidney Problems
- History of Blood Clots
- Prolonged Standing or Sitting
- Family History
- Being a Female
- Multiple Pregnancies
- History of Blood Clots
- Progressive Swelling
- Leg Fatigue
- Leg Heaviness
- Muscle Cramps
- Skin Color Changes
Common Varicose Veins Symptoms
Burning, throbbing, muscle cramping and swelling in your lower legs
Worsened pain after sitting or standing for a long time
Itching around one or more of your veins
Bleeding from varicose veins
A painful cord in the vein with red discoloration of the skin
Color changes, hardening of the vein, inflammation of the skin or skin ulcers near your ankle, which can mean you have a serious form of vascular disease that requires medical attention
What is the difference between Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Varicose veins are characterized by a “rope like” appearance. They are often confused with smaller “spider veins” that are more superficial and usually are only bothersome because of their undesirable cosmetic appearance. Treatment for spider veins is generally not covered by insurance, but they are easily treated with a simple procedure called “Sclerotherapy”. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a very small amount of harmless solution into the vein. You can see the vein fade away as the solution is injected. Some veins may take more than one treatment.
Varicose Veins Treatment Options
There are a number of ways to treat varicose veins and venous insufficiency, however the most current technology involves using laser power, radio frequency power or a thick solution to eliminate the varicose vein. As the main source of the vein is eliminated, other smaller veins that are like branches of the larger vein usually go away. Treatments are performed in office with the use of local anesthetic. Your treatment will depend on many factors, including your age, health, position of the veins and more. You and Dr. Parsons together can make a good decision about your treatment.
We place a small catheter, the size of a strand of spaghetti, into the diseased vein which delivers energy and shrinks/closes the vein. This is a typical first line treatment based on your ultrasound results and often used on larger veins. Types of energy include Laser or Radio-frequency.
A foam is injected into the diseased veins. This foam irritates the lining of the vein causing it to close. This is typically used for smaller veins that remain after ablation treatment as well as the treatment of spider veins.
Varithena is a type of sclerotherapy that can also be used to treat larger veins with decreased risk and minimal patient discomfort.
The vein is physically removed through a tiny 2mm incision. This is the most permanent treatment. This is typically used for smaller veins that remain after ablation treatment.
Varicose Vein Treatment, Before/After
What could happen if I do not seek any treatment?
Having leaky valves in your veins progressively leads to venous hypertension. If this becomes severe it can lead to:
Significant leg swelling
Skin color changes
Thrombophlebitis (Inflamed Veins)
What should I expect during my exam?
During your initial meeting with Dr. Parsons, he will perform a physical exam of your legs to:
Look for swelling, changes in skin color, or sores.
Check blood flow in the veins
Rule out other problems with the legs (such as a blood clot)
The first line of treatment is often non-operative and is typically required by your insurance company. There are a number of self-care treatment options Dr. Parsons may suggest in order to fulfill the requirements of your insurance plan, such as:
Wear compression stockings to decrease swelling.
DO NOT sit or stand for long periods. Even moving your legs slightly helps keep the blood flowing.
Raise your legs above your heart 3 to 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time.
Care for wounds if you have any open sores or infections.
Lose weight if you are overweight.
Get more exercise. This can help with weight management and help move blood up your legs. Walking or swimming are good options.
During your initial consultation, Dr. Parsons will ask many questions and have his staff contact your insurance company for pre-authorization. This will help create your treatment plan and the expectations for a course of action for treatment.