Venous insufficiency is a condition in which the veins have problems sending blood from the legs back to the heart.
Chronic venous insufficiency
Normally, valves in your deeper leg veins keep your blood flowing back toward the heart so it does not collect in one place. But the valves in varicose veins are either damaged or missing. This causes the veins to stay filled with blood, especially when you are standing.
Chronic venous insufficiency is a long-term condition. It occurs because a vein is partly blocked, or blood is leaking around the valves of the veins.
Risk factors for venous insufficiency include:
Being female (related to levels of the hormone progesterone)
Leg pain, which may make your legs feel heavy or tired
Skin sores caused by poor blood flow in the veins
Thickening and hardening of the skin on the legs and ankles (lipodermatosclerosis)
Bergan JJ, Schmid-Schonbein GW, Smith PD, et al. Chronic venous disease. N Engl J Med. 2006;355(5):488-498.
Freischlag JA, Heller JA. Venous disease. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2012: chap 65.
Neil Grossman, MD, MetroWest Radiology Associates, Framingham, MA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.