Abnormal Venous Flow, Valve incompetence and Venous Insufficiency
All of the veins in the legs have a series of one way valves that serves to direct venous blood flow to the heart. In the upright position the weight of the column of blood in the veins normally causes the valve leaflets to close (valve competence). If the vein walls enlarge or the valve leaflets have become damaged the venous blood will leak back through the valve (valve incompetence) and will not be efficiently returned to the heart. This can lead to an accumulation of stagnant venous blood in the legs with bulging of the surface veins, edema (swelling of the feet and ankles) and deterioration of the skin. Failure of venous system to clear the normal products of muscle metabolism such as lactic acid, carbon dioxide and oxygen-poor blood causes irritation and leads to symptoms of aching, burning, itching pain, fatigue, tenderness, heaviness, warmth, restless legs and nocturnal leg cramps. If left untreated CVI causes damage at the intracellular levels leading to and increased production of inflammatory cells, increased oxygen free radical production, venous hypertension and impairment of normal capillary flow. If this is allowed to progress it will cause death of the surrounding fat and skin layers and chronic venous ulcer formation. By eliminating these damaged veins (vein ablation procedures) the venous blood will redirect itself through normal vein segments to once again connect with the deep venous system. This restores competence to the musculovenous pump so that the venous blood can be efficiently returned to the heart and then pumped to the lungs and liver in order to refill its oxygen content, remove the accumulated carbon dioxide, neutralize lactic acid and replenish its glucose and other vital nutrients.