Varicose veins are swollen & twisted veins that typically occur in your legs but can appear anywhere.

Oftentimes, varicose veins or spider veins can lead to more than just an aesthetics issue, they can lead to vein pain in your legs, and make your legs feel heavy and tired. When a vein has become abnormally swollen or dilated, it looks like blue gnarled ropes on the surface of your legs and feet, and it can be an embarrassing condition for many people.

Here’s what you need to know about this condition, what you can do about it, and when it may be a sign of something serious.


Your veins have a system of one-way valves that keep blood from flowing back to your feet as your heart pumps. When these valves start to wear out, the blood flows backward and pools in the veins. This causes the vein to bloat and twist, resulting in an undesired look. While any vein in the body could develop this condition, the legs are the most common given that naturally through activity, those valves work the hardest over time.


Varicose veins, often referred to as varicosities, are prominent, bulging veins that can be seen beneath the skin. These veins emerge due to faulty valves that lead to increased pressure and the accumulation of blood. The great saphenous vein (GSV), running from the foot to the groin along the inner thigh, is the vein most frequently affected by varicose veins. This condition arises when high pressure and the reversal of blood flow harm the smaller veins branching off from it, even though the GSV is typically not visible under normal conditions.


Common varicose vein symptoms may include:

  • Visible, swollen veins: Blue or dark purple twisted, bulging veins are the most apparent symptom.
  • Aching or pain: Aching or pain around the veins can occur, especially after standing or sitting for extended periods.
  • Throbbing or cramping: Varicose veins can cause leg discomfort, like throbbing or cramping.
  • Heaviness or tiredness: Feeling a sense of heaviness or tiredness in the legs, particularly at the end of the day, can occur.
  • Itching or burning: The skin around the varicose veins may itch or burn.
  • Skin changes: Over time, varicose veins can lead to skin changes, particularly near the ankles, such as discoloration, inflammation, sores, or ulcers.
  • Swelling: Lower leg and ankle swelling, known as edema, can occur.

It’s important to note that not everyone with varicose veins will experience symptoms, and symptom severity can vary. If you suspect you have varicose veins or experience symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan.


What are spider veins?

In their most mild form, spider veins, they can make your legs look bumpy and gnarled. However, sensations of pain and heaviness can occur if proper treatment isn’t sought out. This will usually increase in the evenings or when you’ve been standing or sitting for a long time. What’s happening is that the blood isn’t moving out fast enough and ultimately ends up putting pressure on the nerves.

Are spider veins serious?

This is a dangerous sign, especially if there doesn’t seem to be a visible cause. A visual symptom of this occurring can be if a vein turns red, becomes more swollen, or gets inflamed, that’s a sign to go see a doctor to check for a blood clot. While not as serious as a clot deeper in the body, clotting near the skin can be a warning sign of deeper venous trouble. Additionally, varicose veins can cause a form of dermatitis on their own. If your skin gets itchy, flaky, or starts bleeding near the vein, that’s another sign to see a doctor. Varicose vein treatment can be easy if you don’t leave them untreated for a long time. If veins are left to worsen, more invasive vein surgery becomes the only type of surgery available to treat vascular disease.


Close up photo of spider veins from the Nashville Vein Center that need spider vein treatment.

Spider Veins

Photo of varicose veins from The Nashville Vein Center that need varicose vein treatment.

Varicose Veins


What happens if varicose veins are left untreated?

Fortunately, there are treatments. If the pain is mild, there are treatments your doctor can teach you to do self-care at home, such as wearing compression stockings, elevating your feet, increased exercise, and the use of pain medication. But sometimes a vein requires treatment.

In rare cases, varicose veins can cause skin ulcers and other serious complications. If you have varicose veins, see a doctor right away for treatment options. Many varicose vein treatment options are covered by insurance and there are several advanced forms of treatment. However, once your veins start to become varicose, there’s often little that can be done to prevent new varicose veins from developing in the future.

varicose vein

Medical treatment for varicose vein disease is often the most effective option. Treatment routes will be chosen with your doctor to relieve your varicose vein symptoms in the least invasive way possible. Here are some ways your vein surgeon will treat veins:


A fine needle will inject a sclerosant medicine into the vein. Sclerosant blocks blood from flowing through and the injected vein will disappear as the blood vessel breaks down.

Laser ablation

This laser surgery shoots light beams onto veins that will damage and close them up. Laser therapy may not work on a larger vein, so this is best suited for spider veins before they become varicose.

Radiofrequency ablation

Using radiofrequency, varicose veins are heated and closed off. This is more invasive than laser light but still has a quick recovery time.

Men Are At Risk Too

Varicose veins in men often go unseen and untreated. According to our patient, John, he knew he had varicose veins like his father. However, he also remembered the extent of surgery his father went through with having his varicose veins stripped. Today, we’re able to offer less invasive and more successful procedures like laser vein therapy that wasn’t available many years ago.

After John tried everything from compression stockings, leg elevation, heat, and other at-home remedies, he finally decided to seek care. Once Dr. Bonau was able to see John’s varicose veins, he was able to treat him in the office with laser therapy. John was able to return to normal activities was sooner than he anticipated. He was even able to play golf the week after treatment!

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If you have varicose veins and live near Nashville, visit the Nashville Vein Centre for professional and effective vein treatment. We have three locations, one in Franklin, one in Belle Meade, and one in Mt. Juliet. Visit our locations page to find the office nearest to you. Vascular surgery may be a great option to relieve your vein issues.

You can also request a consultation for varicose vein treatment here on our website or give us a call. Our friendly office staff is always happy to help!

    sclerotherapy for varicose veins


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