Understanding Venous Stasis Dermatitis

Vein disease is a progressive condition. It starts in the veins — the part of the circulatory system that returns deoxygenated blood from the body’s tissues back to the heart. If not treated, it can cause serious health problems, including skin ulcers, abscesses, and bone infections.

At Dallas Vein Institute, interventional radiologist and varicose vein specialist Dr. Dev Batra understands the severity of vein disease, and he focuses on offering comprehensive treatment and providing specific solutions that bring relief. 

Venous stasis dermatitis is a vein disease that’s not as well known as some others — like varicose veins — so Dr. Batra and our team have put together this guide to help you understand what you’re going through.

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) and venous stasis dermatitis

Blood flows back to your heart against the pull of gravity by using two mechanisms. First, the muscles in the thigh and calf contract, forcing the blood through the veins in an upward direction. Second, the veins contain one-way valves that snap shut after the blood passes through. 

If the vein walls weaken, it can damage the valves, rendering them unable to close and allowing blood to flow backward and pool. That is referred to as chronic venous insufficiency.

If the superficial veins become engorged with blood, they form colored, ropy protrusions, usually on the legs. These are called varicose veins. They may be purely a cosmetic issue, or they can cause swelling, itching, and burning, and even lead to clots in the deep veins, a potentially life-threatening condition known as deep vein thrombosis.

If varicose veins aren’t treated, painful edema (leg swelling) may result. If the edema is not addressed, it can lead to venous stasis dermatitis, which changes the color and appearance of the skin.

Early on, you may notice orange-brown spots, sometimes called cayenne pepper spots. These develop when pressure from the swelling causes capillaries to burst. The discoloration may progress to red or brown around your ankles and lower legs as hemosiderin, a pigment that forms when the blood’s hemoglobin breaks down, builds up in the tissues. You may also notice:

And if stasis dermatitis goes untreated, the edema can move to the calf and cause open sores, called venous ulcers, to form on the lower legs and tops of feet. These ulcers can bleed, ooze, become infected, and leave scars. A severe case of stasis dermatitis can cause permanent skin changes. 

Risks for venous stasis dermatitis

The risks of venous stasis dermatitis include earlier forms of vein disease, as well as:

Also, people over 50 are more likely to develop the condition, and women are more likely to develop it than men, in part because pregnancy can weaken veins in the legs.

Treatments for venous stasis dermatitis

Several treatments may help get vein disease under control. These include:

At Dallas Vein Institute, we also offer minimally invasive treatments to eliminate your diseased veins. These include:


VenaSeal is an injectable adhesive that seals the diseased veins. Blood is then rerouted to nearby healthy veins. 


ClosureFast is a type of endovenous radiofrequency (RF) ablation treatment. We send radiofrequency energy into the diseased vein, forcing the walls to collapse. Again, blood is rerouted to nearby healthy veins.

Ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy

During traditional sclerotherapy, we inject an irritant into the vein, which irritates the lining and causes the vein to scar and collapse. Most sclerosing agents are liquids, which makes it difficult to achieve an even distribution within the veins. Using ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy allows Dr. Batra to provide a more precise treatment. He adds a gas into the sclerosing agent, then injects the foam-sclerosant blend into your vein. 

The gas acts as a marker, viewable with ultrasound imaging, allowing him to target a specific part of the vein. And the foam allows for even distribution and rises against gravity, producing optimal results. After, the vein withers and collapses.

Are your legs swollen, painful, and discolored? You may have venous stasis dermatitis, which requires medical attention. Contact Dallas Vein Institute in Dallas, Texas, as soon as possible by calling 972-646-8346, or by scheduling your appointment online. We can help.

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