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Leg Swelling

Carolina Vein Institute

Varicose Vein Specialists & Aesthetic Injectors located in Chapel Hill, NC; Raleigh, NC; & Apex, NC

Leg swelling that’s affecting only one leg could require urgent medical attention, but painless swelling in both legs is likely due to a circulatory problem called venous insufficiency. Ashley Baquero, MD, Luan Tran, MD, and the team at Carolina Vein Institute, which has three locations in Raleigh, Chapel Hill, and Apex, North Carolina, are experts in diagnosing and treating venous disease and delivering the most advanced forms of treatment. Call the Carolina Vein Institute location nearest you to schedule a consultation or book an appointment online today.

Leg Swelling Q & A

What causes leg swelling?

Leg swelling that’s painless and affects both legs is a common problem, especially in older people. The swelling is typically due to edema, which is a buildup of fluid in the tissues of your foot, ankle, and leg.

If the swelling is affecting only one leg or is painful, it could be an issue that needs urgent attention, such as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT), an infection, or an injury.

Painless swelling of your legs is usually most obvious in the lower part of your legs, around the ankles. This is due to gravity, which causes the excess fluid to gather at the lowest points.

You’re more likely to experience leg swelling if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Have venous insufficiency
  • Stand for long periods
  • Go on a long journey
  • Are pregnant

Leg swelling is also a common symptom many women experience during their menstrual cycle.

What is venous insufficiency?

Venous insufficiency is a disorder that develops when the valves in your veins get weak or damaged, meaning your legs can’t pump blood back up toward your heart as they should. The blood leaks back through the faulty valves and starts to pool in your veins.

Having varicose veins and spider veins are common signs of venous insufficiency, and you might also develop ankle discoloration. In some cases, the pooling blood also causes leg swelling.

The skilled providers at Carolina Vein Institute can diagnose the cause of your leg swelling during your consultation. Their team even uses ultrasound vein mapping technology to create a map of your veins that shows where the faulty valves are.

How is leg swelling treated?

If your leg swelling is due to a problem like venous insufficiency, your provider can carry out minimally invasive procedures to destroy the affected veins.

Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) involves making a small incision in your skin and inserting a slim tube called a catheter into the affected vein. The team at Carolina Vein Institute uses ultrasound imaging to provide accurate, live guidance.

The RFA device delivers precise amounts of heat to the vein, causing contraction of the vein walls. The veins collapse and close, and over time, your body absorbs the collapsed veins, so they disappear altogether. Blood flow diverts to healthy veins, improving your circulation and relieving leg swelling.

Endovenous laser ablation (EVLA) causes vein collapse as well, but it uses laser energy instead of radiofrequency waves. 

Similarly, VenaSeal, which is a medical adhesive, can be injected directly into diseased veins causing them to collapse and disappear.   

If the affected veins are too small, twisted, or close to the surface of your skin, a better option might be sclerotherapy. This treatment uses a sclerosant that your provider can inject into the affected vein.

Varithena is similar to sclerotherapy, except that it uses an FDA-approved foam to target swollen, diseased veins. 

Call the Carolina Vein Center location nearest you to find out more, or you can book an appointment online today.