The veins and the arteries work closely together to keep your vascular system functioning. The arteries take blood from the heart to the rest of the body; the veins return the blood back to the heart for reoxygenation. For this process to occur, the veins contain one-way valves that open and close, helping blood flow against gravity towards the heart. If these valves become damaged and do not fully close, they can allow blood to flow with gravity, back towards your feet, causing reflux and impairing circulation.
Venous reflux develops when valves in the saphenous veins become damaged or blocked. When these valves in the saphenous veins are impaired, blood can pool in the leg, foot or toes. That’s why venous reflux disease, also known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), causes changes in the texture and color around the ankles and legs. It also contributes to swelling in the ankles and legs (edema), restless legs syndrome (RLS), and varicose veins. It is a progressive disease, meaning it will become worse over time if left untreated, causing them to widen or dilate becoming thinner and weaker.