Vein Conditions

Venous Reflux Disease

What is Venous Reflux Disease

What is
Venous Reflux Disease

Venous reflux disease, also known as venous insufficiency, is the underlying cause for the development of varicose veins and associated symptoms such as leg pain, swelling, heaviness, fatigue, and aching.  Night-time symptoms include restless legs and leg cramps.  Venous reflux occurs when the one-way valves in the leg veins no longer function properly.

Normally, the leg veins carry de-oxygenated blood back to the lungs to become oxygenated again before it circulates to the heart and rest of the body.  When the one-way valves become weak and leaky, blood backs up in your leg veins.  The backflow of blood is termed, ‘venous reflux.’  The backflow of blood may occur in the deep and/or superficial leg veins.  Most often, venous reflux begins in the superficial leg veins called the great and small saphenous veins.  The backflow problem within these veins eventually causes enlargement of surface veins.  When the surface veins become swollen and twisted, they are referred to as varicose veins.  Symptoms venous reflux can occur with or without visible signs of underlying venous reflux.

varicose veins infographic

Symptoms tend to get worse throughout the day and with prolonged standing. The more you stand, the more gravity causes the blood to pool within the bad veins. For women, symptoms get worse with menstruation and pregnancy because hormones also affect the veins. Your legs may feel better when you elevate the legs, exercise, or use compression stockings, which all lessen the pooling of blood within the veins.  Over time, venous reflux disease

Who is at risk?

What are the signs and symptoms of venous reflux disease?

Symptoms of venous reflux disease include:

• Swelling of the legs or ankles (edema)

swelling of the ankles

Swelling of the legs and ankles

• Leg pain

Leg Pain

Leg pain is often associated with vein disease

• Heavy, tired legs

leg heaviness

Link between leg heaviness and your veins

• Aching, throbbing, or a feeling of heaviness in your legs

• aching throbbing or a feeling of heaviness in your legs

aching and throbbing in legs is often linked to vein disease

• Itchy legs

itchy legs

Itchy legs can be an early warning of venous reflux

• Spider Veins

especially along the inner knees and inner ankles
spider veins around ankle

Spider Veins around ankles

• Varicose veins

varicose veins spider veins

Varicose Veins

• Night Cramps

(usually in the calves)
leg cramp

Leg cramps in calves is often caused by varicose veins

• Restless Leg Symptoms

drawing showing restless leg syndrome

Night cramps and restless legs are common symptoms of varicose veins

•Skin that is darkening

especially around the ankles
venous stasis

venous stasis sign of underlying venous disease

• Itching and Eczema of the skin

around the ankles
shutterstock 316349981 1030x687 1

itchy skin around ankles

• Leg ulcers around the ankles

vv hemorrhage

Varicose Vein hemorrhage

How Is Venous Reflux Disease Diagnosed?

Since venous reflux disease affects the veins beneath the surface of the skin, ultrasound evaluation is important to see how the leg veins are functioning. Ultrasound can determine if the valves are leaky and if backflow is present and identify which veins are problematic.

What is Duplex Ultrasound?

what is duplex ultrasound

How is venous reflux disease treated?

Conservative management such as leg elevation, exercise, compression stockings, ice packs, flavonoid supplements and NSAIDS can be helpful in reducing symptoms. When symptoms worsen or if complications develop, such as skin changes, leg ulceration, spontaneous bleeding from varicose veins and blood clots, then treatment of the underlying venous reflux condition may be recommended. We offer a variety of endovenous (non-surgical) treatment options that can be tailored to the individual.


5 star reviews by actual patients

I am pleased to recommend La Jolla Vein & Vascular. I am in the process of receiving treatment there. The entire medical staff are super friendly, welcoming and very helpful. Everyone is courteous, including the physicians. I’ve had one doctor follow my case. He’s the one who always treats me at appointments and closely follows my health. I am very comfortable going there. Would go again if needed and encourage anyone who’s thinking of making an appointment to do so asap. You’ll see what a wonderful experience it is. It’s the people who make it so special!

Monica M.

I have been having leg treatments for several months now La Jolla Vein Care. Every time I go to an appointment; the staff is so friendly and takes such good care of me; always informative; not in a rush and always friendly (especially Alejandra & Anna to name a few). Of course Dr. Lucas is amazing. The treatments have changed my life. Overall this has been an incredible experience. 

Brigid Z.

The staff at La Jolla Vein Care Center are outstanding. They are friendly and helpful. Dr. Lucas and my ultrasound tech were both very thorough, kind and answered all of my questions. The new office was beautiful. I feel very confident that I am in good hands and that any up coming treatments will be successful. Thank for for making me feel so comfortable.

Ginger T.

The staff members that I interacted with were all professional, conscientious and empathetic to my complaints and discomfort. I was taken into the ultrasound room a few minutes before my appointment time. I did not have a long wait before the ultrasonographer came and ran the machine. It was also a short wait before Dr. Steinburg came into the room with a warm, welcoming smile. We discussed my ultrasound and the things I was experiencing . I scheduled another appointment for next year and was offered a bottle of water upon leaving the office. All in all, I thought it was a very satisfactory appointment.

Renee P.

Dr De Young is personable and thorough in his explanations. Exceptional. 

James R.

When I arrived for the first time, I could barely walk. My legs were red and swollen. After my treatments, I can now walk again. I’m so thankful to the doctor and his staff. They are caring, supporting and knowledgeable about my issues. Five Stars all the way!!!! 

Pamela M.

The office is exceptional, from front desk, to exam staff to the physicians. They have created a welcoming, relaxing environment, and take their time in examining and consulting with you to provide the best outcome. I highly recommend La Jolla Vein & Vascular for the assessment and treatment of your vein and vascular function.

Nancy F.

I had the best experience at La Jolla Vein Care. Dr.Bunke is an amazing doctor with the best bedside manners, she truly cares about her patients, she explained everything to me. My procedures where so easy I was impressed how painless and fast my appointments. Anna M was very helpful scheduling my treatments and checking on me to make sure all of my questions were answered. I am very pleased thank you !!! I truly recommend La Jolla Vein Care!

Henda S.

From my greeting at the front desk to the ultrasound and visit with the doctor, I received excellent care. It’s clear they care about their patients and all the staff couldn’t have been nicer or more helpful. I also appreciate how much time the doctor spent with me to explain the results and the next steps. I would definitely recommend this office to friends with vein issues. 

Anne S.

We were early and didn’t have to wait at all. The tech that did my husband’s ultrasound, Monica, was very accommodating with my husband’s Parkinson’s. Doctor Lucas whom we hadn’t seen before, came to us instead of making my husband walk down to another office. She spent a lot of time getting caught up on Steve’s background issues/conditions. I was impressed by this medical group before, so I was surprised that the staff was even better this time around; I honestly didn’t think there was room for improvement! 

Linda N.

Everyone here is so nice! Usually front desk medical personnel are so rude. The front desk ladies Alejandra, Anna, and I think her name is Liz, went above and beyond to take care of me and my insurance issues. The techs are great too! Rachel and a male technician assisted me…both of them implemented different techniques to make me feel more at ease during an uncomfortable and painful process. These procedures were rough…and I am grateful everyone was so sweet to me. Thanks again. 

Melissa B.

Highly recommend! Entire staff are warm& friendly, professional and accommodating. The doctor took the time to thoroughly explain everything and encouraged me to ask questions. I never felt rushed. Significantly better experience than the other 2 vein clinics I’ve been to on the east coast. I wish I could’ve just come here from the beginning. 


The staff kept you informed as to when you would be seen and the wait was not too long. Emily took care of my ultrasound and was very accommodating giving me an extra pillow and playing a video to watch. The office is very courteous and professional- Nadia answered our questions and offered us a bottle of water. I have been seeing Dr. Bunke, but now Dr. Lucas and will continue coming to La Jolla Vein Care! 

Rebecca D.

La Jolla Vein care has the best staff ever. They are so nice, accommodating and professional!! Dr. Bunke is the best doctor that I ever seen. She is so friendly upfront and has the best bed side manner. I thank this office for letting me be their patient. 💜. Plus they are so careful with COVID which I really appreciate!!! 

Darlene H.

Beautiful facility! I walked in without an appointment and they took me right away! It was even the end of the day…I was so grateful…Every single person was soooo pleasant! Super impressed ❤️ 

Susan M.

Make An Appointment

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