Venous insufficiency results from blood pooling in the leg veins. But what does that look and feel like?
Did you know that your leg veins contain tiny valves that close tightly and push blood back to the heart? When these valves weaken or malfunction, you experience blood pooling (or venous pooling). Your doctor may also use the term venous insufficiency to describe your condition, an umbrella term that describes a breakdown of blood circulation in the leg veins.
Knowing how to identify the signs of blood pooling in the legs can help you get treatment before further complications develop.
How does blood pooling in the legs feel?
There are several risk factors associated with venous insufficiency. Obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and genetics can all lead to this vascular condition. Women also experience venous insufficiency in greater numbers than men due to hormone changes and pregnancy. And sometimes, an injury to the vein can damage it, causing venous pooling.
Blood pooling associated with venous insufficiency can cause physical changes in the legs, such as:
Varicose veins. Varicose veins, the most noticeable side effect of venous insufficiency, develop when the blood pooling stretches the vein walls and causes a protruding, twisting vein to emerge from under the skin. Varicose veins often cause pain, swelling, itching, heaviness, and cramping.
Swelling. Venous pooling causes a backup of fluid. As fluid leaks into the surrounding tissues, excessive swelling, or edema, develops in one or both legs.
Skin changes. Blood pooling increases the blood pressure in the veins, which can result in skin changes. The skin on the legs or around the ankle may turn brownish and feel tight. In advanced cases, painful, slow-healing venous ulcers may develop.
Blood clots. Leg swelling can also indicate a blood clot in the leg. As the blood pools, the blood cells can cluster and form a clot. A clot deep in the leg veins is known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). In addition to swelling, the skin may feel warm to the touch and turn red. If the clot breaks away and reaches the lungs, it could cause a potentially life-threatening pulmonary embolism (PE).
How to treat and prevent blood from pooling
Treating venous pooling focuses on improving blood flow in the leg veins. Luckily, there are conservative (non-surgical) and surgical methods to improve blood flow.
Non-surgical methods include elevating the legs to help move blood back to the heart. As the blood drains from the leg veins, swelling will also decrease. Your doctor may also recommend wearing compression stockings. These tight elastic garments apply gentle pressure to the leg veins, reducing the chance of blood pooling.
Managing your weight at your ideal level can also prevent blood from pooling in the leg veins.
While conservative methods can alleviate venous pooling symptoms, only minimally invasive surgical procedures performed by a vein specialist can eliminate the condition. These procedures destroy the diseased veins, allowing blood to flow to healthy veins. As circulation improves, you’ll experience less blood pooling in the leg veins.
Talk to a vein treatment specialist in Atlanta
Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) has three vein clinics in the Atlanta area, each staffed by an experienced vein specialist who has performed thousands of surgical procedures to eliminate blood pooling in the legs. Venous insufficiency is a progressive vascular condition that can develop severe complications, but CVR can help you overcome any stage of vein disease.
Keith S. Moore, MD, is a board-certified general surgeon specializing in vein procedures.
Louis Prevosti, MD, FACS, is a board-certified physician in thoracic and cardiovascular surgery.
James Fonger, MD, FRCS, is a board-certified physician in general and cardiovascular surgery.
Don't live near an Atlanta CVR vein clinic location? No problem! With over 100 vein clinic locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia, there's sure to be a CVR vein center near you.
Contact us for a consultation today, or schedule online at your convenience.
Gwinnett Professional Center
601 Professional Drive
Lawrenceville, GA 30046
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3886 Princeton Lakes Way
Atlanta, GA 30331
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1100 Johnson Ferry Road NE
Atlanta, GA 30342