What Does It Mean If My Legs Swell Often?

What Does It Mean If My Legs Swell Often?

Many of us experience occasional puffiness in our legs, ankles, and feet after a long day of standing. Oddly enough, you can often expect the same when traveling or participating in other activities that force you to sit in one position for several hours.

This temporary fluid buildup typically clears quickly once you prop your feet up for a few minutes or take a quick walk to get the blood flowing again. But when the swelling is persistent or occurs more days than not, it’s time to see a vascular expert.

Dr. Michael Gioscia is a board-certified surgeon who specializes in treating vascular issues at the Vein Institute of Westchester in White Plains, New York. He explains the connection between vein health and leg swelling, and why you shouldn’t ignore your symptoms.

Understanding why your legs swell

There are many possible causes of fluid buildup or swelling (edema) in your legs, feet, or ankles.

Conditions such as heart failure or chronic kidney disease, for instance, can cause generalized swelling that is often more noticeable in your legs and/or feet.

Spending long periods of time with your legs dependent (below the heart) can also interfere with your body’s ability to move fluids and blood upward from your legs to your heart. We call this “dependent edema,” which is commonly related to prolonged standing or sitting.

Very often, though, frequent leg swelling is related to chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). This condition is caused by damage within leg veins that interferes with their ability to carry blood back to your heart. As blood pools in the affected veins, excess fluid leaks into the surrounding tissue and causes swelling.

Dr. Gioscia explains that, along with persistent leg edema, CVI can cause other painful and potentially disabling issues that typically worsen as the condition advances.

Possible health complications related to CVI

Symptoms and complications associated with untreated venous insufficiency include:

CVI and the increased pressure caused by persistent swelling can also cause the smallest blood vessels (capillaries) in your legs to hemorrhage. This results in reddish-brown skin discoloration as well as an increased vulnerability to skin tears with the slightest bump or scratch.

Preventing leg swelling related to CVI  

Dr. Gioscia notes that mild CVI may respond to conservative therapies that help reduce pressure on your leg veins.

This may include:

These measures won’t cure CVI but may lessen the symptoms and/or prevent CVI in the future.

To successfully eliminate the leg swelling, cosmetic concerns, and other health complications associated with CVI, Dr. Gioscia must address the underlying vein damage.

Dr. Gioscia takes the time to fully evaluate your leg veins and devise the most effective treatment plan. This isn't a one-fix-for-all practice. Dr. Gioscia has extensive experience in all possible solutions.

Well-known for his expertise in creating personalized treatment strategies, Dr. Gioscia may recommend one or more minimally invasive, in-office treatments:

Each of these and other therapies offered by Dr. Gioscia is designed to seal the damaged vein(s) and restore healthy venous circulation to your legs.

For more information about leg swelling and treatments available for CVI or any of the other services we offer, schedule a visit at the Vein Institute of Westchester today.

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