Running Legs

Frequently Asked Questions

Welcome to our FAQ page where we aim to answer your common questions regarding vein treatments available here at Reno Vein Clinic. Here, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions to guide you on your journey to better vein health.

Whether you’re exploring options for varicose vein treatment, spider vein removal, or seeking to understand the different vein treatment technologies available, this page is designed to provide you with a wealth of information. We understand that every patient’s situation is unique, and thus, we’ve strived to cover a broad spectrum of questions to cater to your specific needs.

Feel free to browse through the questions and if you don’t find the answers you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to contact us. Our goal is to help you make well-informed decisions concerning your vein health and to help you find the best vein clinic in Reno to meet your individual needs.

What are Varicose and Spider Veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged veins that do not work well. They are swollen and usually raised above the surface of the skin. They often look like cords and appear twisted and bulging.  Varicose veins are usually on the legs but can be elsewhere. Sometimes they cause no problems but they can cause pain and even skin changes. When causing problems treatment is usually covered by insurance but the situation needs to meet certain requirements. 

Spider veins or telangiectasias are tiny varicose veins in the skin. They are often red or blue. They can look like tree branches, or spider webs with their short jagged lines. Spider veins are most common on the legs and face.  They do not usually cause problems except being unsightly. They are rarely covered by insurance.

Varicose Veins of the Leg

What generally happens to Varicose Veins?

Most varicose veins worsen slowly. The veins swell more, and can affect blood flow, but not as severely as artery blockages. With time, the veins can cause pain, leg swelling and even permanent skin problems. Once varicose veins develop, it is very unlikely that they will go away without treatment.

Spider veins also will not improve by themselves but rarely cause problems except appearance.

What causes Varicose Veins and Spider veins?

The heart pumps blood filled with oxygen and nutrients to the whole body. Arteries carry oxygen rich blood from the heart towards the body parts. Veins carry oxygen-poor blood from the body back to the heart. Veins are soft and flaccid and do not have their own pump like the heart.

The squeezing of leg muscles pumps blood back to the heart from the lower body. Veins have soft  flaps that act as one-way valves . These valves prevent the blood from flowing backwards as it moves up the legs. If the valves become weak, blood can flow backward into the vein and pool there. This problem is called venous insufficiency. Pooled blood enlarges the vein and it becomes varicose. Once varicose it is usually permanent. Hormone changes, inherited factors, and large weight gain can cause varicose veins.

Spider veins can also be caused by sun exposure, and sometimes skin damage.

normal vs varicose
Who Varicose Veins

Who usually has Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?

Many factors increase a person’s chances of developing varicose or spider veins. These include:

  • Aging
  • Having family members with vein problems, or being born with weak vein valves
  • Obesity, leg injury,  and other things that weaken vein valves can cause large bulgy varicose veins
  • Prolonged standing may not cause varicose veins but if they occur, it seems to worsen them.
  • Hormonal changes, especially female hormones. These occur during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Taking birth control pills and other medicines containing estrogen and progesterone also increase the risk of varicose or spider veins. Because female hormones have a variety of both positive and negative effects, changing hormone therapy should be discussed with your regular doctor.
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy there is a huge increase in the amount of blood and hormones in the body. This can cause veins to enlarge. The expanding uterus also puts pressure on the veins. Varicose veins usually improve within 3 months after delivery, but may not go away entirely. 
  • Sun exposure can cause spider veins, especially on the cheeks or nose of a fair-skinned person

Why do Varicose Veins and Spider Veins usually appear in the Legs?

The force of gravity, the pressure of body weight, and the task of carrying blood from the bottom of the body up to the heart make legs the main place for varicose and spider veins. Compared with other veins in the body, leg veins have the toughest job of carrying blood uphill to the heart. The weight of blood increases the pressure and the stress on veins and valves.

Lower Leg Varicose

What are Symptoms of Varicose Veins?

Aside from being unattractive, varicose veins may be responsible for leg aches, a feeling of heaviness or fatigue (tiredness) of the legs. Many people will complain of leg ache at the end of the day. Symptoms are often worse after prolonged standing and may include feelings of  burning, throbbing, itching, cramping, and restlessness of the legs. Leg cramps usually present at night in the affected leg.

With time, darkening or hyperpigmentation around the ankles can come from varicose veins. Varicose veins do not cause joint pains or a decrease in blood supply to the legs. 

What problems can occur if left untreated?

Most people with varicose veins do not develop complications.  People with no pain or skin changes do not necessarily need their veins treated. It is impossible to predict who will develop complications. But development of problems increases the risk of more problems later. So if vein complications occur, they should be evaluated for possible treatment. The size of the varicose vein is not related to complications or even pain. The longer the veins are abnormal the more likely a problem will occur. Complications include:

  • Pain–this can be vague and takes many forms.  Wearing medical support stockings can help relieve pain from varicose veins.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis – in this condition, the varicose vein is painful,  warm and clotted inside. This should be evaluated by a health care provider, including an ultrasound exam. Usually this is not related to a Deep Vein Thrombosis, which is more dangerous. Medication such as ibuprofen will often help.
  • Bleeding – even with minor trauma,  a delicate varicose vein may bleed. Because the vein is under high pressure, the bleeding can be a lot. If that happens, lying down and lifting the leg above the heart level can help. Then a snug bandage can be applied.
  • Edema–gradual leg swelling can be from many causes, but if large varicose veins are present, they can be the main cause.
  • Venous Eczema or “Stasis Dermatitis” –A rash on the legs from varicose veins. It is dry and can be very itchy. 
  • Skin Pigmentation – this is brown staining of the skin around the ankle. It is permanent and if present the veins should be treated.
  • Venous Ulceration – ulcers from varicose veins, usually by the ankle. These are difficult to heal so it is important to get varicose veins treated when the skin is showing changes, before an ulcer develops.

How can Varicose Veins be diagnosed?

Varicose veins can usually be diagnosed by a simple physical examination. However, the cause of the varicose vein requires ultrasound examination. This is safe and painless. It assesses the vein function and size. Ultrasound can also check for blood clots in the veins. This exam is necessary before treatment of bulgy varicosities.

Is Varicose Vein Treatment covered by insurance?

It depends. If one has symptoms of leg swelling, pain, ulcers or clots, then most medical insurances cover the cost of treatment. However, if the treatment is purely for cosmetic reasons, then the cost is not covered. Spider veins can occasionally ache, but treatment is still not covered by insurance.