Leg Swelling

Why are my legs swelling and why do they feel tired or heavy?

Swelling in the legs can be caused by several different medical issues but the most common reasons are that the venous and lymphatic systems in your legs are out of balance. Either the veins are leaking too much fluid into the soft tissue, or the lymphatic system is not absorbing enough of that fluid. These issues commonly show up as we age and tend to get worse after periods of sitting or standing. Although compression can help with the symptoms, swelling is a sign of a deeper medical problem that needs to be addressed.

 

Swelling is not just a cosmetic issue. For many it may dictate clothing and footwear as well as decrease activity due to legs feeling tired and heavy. The swelling associated with venous reflux (vein stretching out and preventing proper flow of the blood out of the leg and back to the heart) leads to skin changes, higher risk of skin infection, poor healing and eventually ulcers.

 

At Colorado Skin and Vein, we have been helping patients with the most effective treatments for leg swelling and general lymphedema. Our vein treatment center has the state of art technology and experience needed to find the best options to address the root causes, allowing your legs to both look and feel better. Contact us today to take the first step towards relief.

Leg swelling commonly occurs when either your veins leak too much fluid into the soft tissue, the lymphatic system gets overloaded and cannot remove that fluid from the soft tissue or a combination of both. When the veins in your lower limbs swell, they become more permeable and leak fluid out into the soft tissue. Think of your ankles swelling after a long day of standing or air travel. Once it leaks out of the vascular system, this fluid must be mobilized by the lymphatic system. If the lymphatic system gets overloaded, there is fluid buildup. Some of the most common causes of leg swelling are:

  • Varicose veins
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Lymph system blockage (lymphedema)
  • Blood clots
  • Problems with other organs such as the heart, kidneys or liver
  • Allergic reactions

The most common reason for lower legs swelling are vein problems. This swelling can lead to aching, restless legs syndrome, nighttime leg cramping, and feelings of achy, heavy, or tired legs.

The main job of your veins is to bring the blood back to the heart. The valves inside the veins are designed to open, allowing the blood to go up before sealing tightly to prevent backflow.
As time goes on, gravity, genetics, and aging affect the veins, which start to dilate. This dilation creates a space between the valves, which allows blood to fall down and pool in segments below the damaged valve. This in turn stretches out the next lower part of the vessel continuing the damage process down the vein. Veins that are stretched out are more permeable. This heightened permeability allows more fluid to flow from inside the vessel into the surrounding soft tissue.

 

Our lymphatic system is responsible for removing swelling. As lymphatics become overloaded, swelling becomes more permanent. Many patients can develop a condition called lymphedema where these systems are constantly out of balance and fluid gets stuck in the soft tissue leading to almost constant swelling. This can lead not only to the discomfort mentioned above, but also long-term skin changes, increased risk of infection and even ulcers.

Unfortunately, leg swelling is only one of the symptoms that problems like damaged vein valves can cause. Other common issues include:

  • Leg pain
  • Leg cramping
  • Tired legs
  • Visible superficial leg vein
  • Varicose veins
  • Heavy legs
  • Restless legs syndrome (RLS)
  • Changes in skin color around the ankles
  • Slow-healing sores

You have an increased risk of these issues if you are genetically predisposed, are inactive, stand for extended periods, struggle with your weight, or take certain types of blood pressure or diabetes medications.

Treatment Results

Before
After

View Our Gallery

Skip to content