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Various Stages of Chronic Venous Insufficiency

varicose veins stages

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) is a condition affecting the veins in your legs. The condition in its initial stage causes very few symptoms if any, and they can be hard to spot. As the condition progresses perceivable symptoms appear which include pain, swelling, cramping, skin discolouration and ulcer formation.

Staging of the condition by doctors can help to figure the best treatment. Staging will be done at the initial diagnosis and throughout the treatment. Doctors can diagnose CVI through a physical examination. Your skin will be checked for any bulging or a type of swelling, called oedema. Your doctor might need to review the medications you take to rule out any other possible causes of swelling.

Sometimes few additional tests may be suggested to understand the possibility of edema due to conditions affecting the liver or kidney, heart failure, lymphedema, thyroid, and diabetes.

Imaging tests like an ultrasound may also be performed to know the functioning of veins and impending venous disorders. Based on the signs and symptoms doctors classify CVI into various stages.

Stage 0

There are no visible signs of CVI at this stage. To slow down the progression of CVI regular exercise, a healthy diet and weight loss are recommended.

Stage 1

Blue or purple veins, known as reticular veins, which are between 1 – 3 mm in diameter starts to appear and this is the initial sign of CVI. Tiny spider veins may begin to appear. Wearing compression stockings are recommended which aids in moving the blood up from the lower legs.

Stage 2

In this stage, varicose veins begin to appear and are large enough to feel them protruding under the skin. Common treatments include compression garments such as stockings and exercise. Varicose vein treatments involve scarring the diseased vein to cause its collapse. Doctors decide on the treatment based on the individual’s medical condition.

Stage 3

Untreated varicose veins lead to poor circulation and swelling or oedema of the affected area due to the accumulation of fluid in the tissues. If left untreated the condition can affect the lymphatic system.

Stage 4

Blood pooling at the surface can trigger an inflammatory response causing red, itchy rashes. A condition called Stasis dermatitis occurs as fluid builds up in the lower legs due to varicose veins or other circulatory conditions. Symptoms of dermatitis include thickened and discoloured skin, itching and open sores and scars on the lower legs.

Stage 5

If left untreated, venous insufficiency could progress to venous ulcers, which are open sores that occur because of the skin tissue breaking down on your leg. These ulcers and sores can be extremely painful and the quality of life is affected. If you have progressed to this stage, getting your veins evaluated and starting treatment is most important. Treatment will focus on treating oedema and varicose veins to prevent
further ulcer formation.

It is essential that CVI is diagnosed and treatment is sought at the initial stage to stop the progression of the vein disease into advanced stages. Consult a vein specialist at Avis Vascular Centre if you have concerns about your vein health.

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