Leg Swelling

Vein Specialists of the Carolinas

We Understand The Complexity Of Leg Swelling.

Leg Swelling

Swelling is simply fluid building up in the body’s tissues. The fluid is spread out among the cells. It is not like a fluid collection that can be drained with a needle. When you press in on swollen tissue the fluid moves away and leaves a dent in the overlying skin. This fills back in as the fluid returns. When the legs are elevated the fluid flows deeper into the body and the swelling appears to go away. When the legs are below the heart, the swelling returns. For some it is noticeable only at the end of the day. For others it starts as soon as they get up. The medical term for swelling is edema.

It can be very hard to tell what causes edema even with lots of medical testing.

What is amazing is that we don’t all walk around with our legs looking like water balloons!

Leg Swelling, Vein Specialists of the Carolinas

We May Be Able To Help With Your Leg Swelling!

A much more thorough investigation of the veins needs to be done.
Once medical causes have been excluded.
Undiagnosed vein problems are a very common cause of swelling.

Detailed leg vein ultrasound

  • Lying down to rule out DVT.
  • Standing to evaluate for reflux in the deep and superficial system.

Detailed Abdomen and Pelvic ultrasound

  • Looking specifically at the veins.
  • Highly specialized study, requires special training.
  • Not taught in ultrasound school.
  • Routine ultrasounds are not enough.
  • MUST be done at Vein or Vascular specialist.

Venogram – Injection of x -dye into veins.

Intra Venous Ultra Sound (IVUS) – A tiny ultrasound probe is put into the veins and imaging is done from the inside to precisely measure for vein blockage.

Correction of vein problems helps leg swelling!!!!!

Swelling due to underlying medical conditions is called edema and needs medical treatment.

Swelling due to vein problems is called Phlebolymphedema and needs the veins treated. (see Procedures section).

Leg Swelling, Vein Specialists of the Carolinas

Non-Surgical Treatment of Leg Swelling

Even if the underlying cause of the swelling cannot be found or corrected, there is still hope.

Compression garments, hose or socks.

Wedge pillow to correctly elevate your legs.

An adjustable bed a prescription may help get this for reduced cost.

New medications that are not diuretics and work directly on the veins are available.

Complete Decongestive Therapy (CDT)  a type of physical therapy that uses massage and wrapping.

Pneumatic pumps similar but more sophisticated than those applied in the hospital to prevent blood clots.

In patients with swelling due to heart failure, lying down and elevating the legs can lead to severe shortness of breath and worsening of heart failure.

Leg Swelling, Vein Specialists of the Carolinas


  • Your Medical doctor should work you up to exclude medical causes like Kidney, Heart, Liver, Thyroid, etc.
  • Medications can cause leg swelling.
  • Often a basic ultrasound is done (lying down) to rule out a blood clot in your leg (DVT). This is nearly always negative, but it doesn’t mean there are not other vein problems.
  • “Fluid pills” may be tried to reduce the swelling.
  • You may be given a diagnosis of “lymphedema”.
  • You may be told the only treatment is leg elevation and compression garments.
  • If this doesn’t help you’re told: “There’s nothing else we can do for you”.
Leg Swelling, Vein Specialists of the Carolinas

What is Lymphedema

  • It is another type swelling of the tissues.
  • It is due to problems with the lymphatic  system or from injury to it like lymph node removal during surgery.
  • It often has a different appearance than edema from other sources.
Leg Swelling, Vein Specialists of the Carolinas

Pitted Edema Leg Swelling

Leg Swelling, Vein Specialists of the Carolinas




Mon.-Thurs.: 7:30am - 4:30pm
Friday: 7:30am-12:30pm


15825 Ballantyne Medical Place,
Ste. 240
Charlotte, North Carolina 28277

Vein Specialists of the Carolinas Rated Best of Charlotte Vein Specialists




Mon.-Thurs.: 7:30am - 4:30pm
Friday: 7:30am-12:30pm


860 Summit Crossing Place,
Ste. 120
Gastonia, North Carolina 28054

Vein Specialists of the Carolinas Gastonia Location

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