Swollen legs are a very common symptom seen in patients with venous disease. Malfunctioning valves within the veins allow blood to pool, increasing the pressure within the veins. This creates a condition known as “edema,” in which fluid seeps out into the surrounding soft tissues and accumulates there, resulting in swelling and tightening of the skin. Edema can be very uncomfortable. Other causes of leg swelling include blood clots, heart problems, kidney dysfunction, hormonal imbalances, and liver damage.
In order to treat a patient’s leg swelling, a doctor must first determine the cause. The underlying condition must be treated to relieve any symptoms, and what works for swelling caused by venous insufficiency will not necessarily work for swelling caused by other conditions. A color duplex ultrasound exam will allow the doctor to identify whether the edema is caused by venous disease so that he can determine the most efficacious treatment.
If venous insufficiency is indeed causing the edema, Dr. Gardner may recommend compression stockings for short-term relief, and endovenous laser ablation techniques to eliminate the affected veins.