Venous disorders are exceedingly common, with more than 50 percent of the population showing some manifestations of these disorders, such as varicose or spider veins, by age 65. Venous disorders are often simply unsightly, but in many cases can cause leg pain, swelling, phlebitis, nonhealing ulcers of the skin, and other serious problems.

Despite the very widespread and sometimes serious nature of venous disorders, they are not aggressively diagnosed or treated. Part of the problem is that venous reflux, the most common cause of venous problems, is poorly understood. Most health care professionals don’t understand the pathophysiology of the disease, and that often results in delays in getting the proper treatment.

Venous reflux (also known as venous insufficiency) occurs when venous valves don’t function adequately, leading to reversal of blood flow through the valves during standing or sitting.

Venous reflux most commonly occurs when vein valves weaken due to genetic influences or multiple pregnancies, among other factors. Occupations involving long periods of standing also contribute to causation.

Venous reflux is often self- perpetuating, as the pooling of blood in veins distends them, which pulls apart the valve leaflets of the next, lower valve and causes reflux farther down the leg.

As blood pools in lower extremities, veins further swell causing the appearance of varicose veins. This leads to pain, cramping, and spasms often causing the patient to wake up at night with severe restless leg syndrome.

Stasis of blood in the leg also leads to pigmentation of the skin and clots in the varicose veins (phlebitis). The high venous pressure in some cases can lead to nonhealing of simple breaks in the skin, which is seen as a chronic skin ulcer, usually around the ankle.

Diagnosis is made by venous ultrasound in which the segments involved, extent, and severity of the reflux is mapped and documented. After this is done, the treatment plan can be made.

In simple cases treatment for venous reflux can range from making lifestyle changes to use of compression stockings.

In more complex cases, surgery may be required to correct the venous reflux and halt the progression of disease in the leg.

Traditionally, one of the most common surgical procedures has been vein stripping, in which a vein-stripping tool is pulled through the great saphenous vein, removing the vein from the leg. More recently, vein stripping has largely been replaced by other vein ablation techniques.

These are minimally invasive procedures like Endovenous Laser Ablation or Radiofrequency Ablation.

In these procedures venous access is obtained with ultrasound guidance and a laser fiber is advanced within the diseased vein. After this an anesthetic solution is injected to surround the segment of vein being treated and the laser is activated and withdrawn. The leg is tightly wrapped in bandages and the patient can walk right after the procedure.

The advantages are that patients can return to work the next day, there is no hospital stay, no scars, and very little or no pain. The procedure lasts 30-45 minutes and is covered by most insurance policies.

Patients can return to their activities of daily living right away without significant down time.

Call Vein Memphis to schedule a consultation at (901) 333-2525 or visit

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