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Superficial Venous Insufficiency

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What is Superficial Venous Insufficiency?

Superficial venous insufficiency (SVI) is a progressive condition that may start with minimal signs and symptoms, such as cosmetic changes like varicose veins.

As venous disease worsens, people may develop more debilitating symptoms or other complications.

Symptoms of SVI

  • Swelling causing discomfort and pain of the legs, feet, and ankles
  • A warm feeling in the leg
  • Tired, heavy legs, that make walking and regular activity difficult
  • Fluid that spreads, becoming trapped in the leg and ankle
  • Skin changes and/or discoloration and redness
  • Deep throbbing or diffuse pain after prolonged standing
  • Open sores or ulcers on the legs, located above the ankle, that will not heal

Risk Factors

Know your RISK FOR SVI

Anyone can develop SVI; as many as 40 million Americans have varicose veins. Left untreated, varicose veins become worse, but there are certain conditions that increase the likelihood of having this condition.

These can include:

  • Family history of venous disease
  • Previous trauma or injury can damage veins, making it more difficult for them to move blood
  • Gender can play a role as women are twice as likely to develop the condition as men
  • Medications such as birth control and infertility drugs can increase estrogen and progesterone, hormones that are associated with higher risks for spider veins
  • Pregnancy can put pressure on a women’s pelvic area and veins, resulting in spider and varicose veins
  • Other medical conditions such as obesity and being overweight

Diagnosing SVI

Superficial venous problems may be visible on the legs, but it is important to let a doctor confirm a diagnosis. Why? Because sometimes SVI can indicate other serious problems in the deep veins that need immediate treatment.

To confirm an SVI diagnosis, your doctor may use a combination of a physical exam, medical history, and one or more of the following tools:

  • Duplex ultrasound to examine blood flow in the legs
  • Venography, a type of x-ray, to obtain a detailed look at the veins

What are the treatment options?

Depending on the severity of your condition, treatment options may include lifestyle changes such as maintaining proper weight, elevating your legs when resting, not sitting or standing for long periods of time, and wearing compression stockings.

In some cases, the vascular surgeon will recommend additional treatments.

  • Sclerotherapy which uses injected medication to block flow to the diseased vein
  • Ablation therapy which uses energy to close down larger varicose veins
  • Phlebectomy, a surgical procedure to remove larger veins
  • Other non-thermal treatments: Venaseal (glue), Varithena (foam)