For the last few months, you’ve noticed the veins on your legs are becoming more prominent and visible. In the beginning, they were just barely seen beneath the surface of your skin, but now they become more raised and darker in color. To top it off, you’re starting to feel your legs swelling and are more achy after standing at work. If you can relate, these may be the first signs of a common underlying condition known as venous insufficiency, or vein disease. There are many different reasons behind leg veins becoming more visible. We explore what is healthy and when you should worry about your visible veins on your legs.
Visible veins are either dark or bulging, making them more apparent. While the condition is aesthetically unappealing, it isn’t always an indication of something serious. In some cases, visible veins are completely normal.
On the other hand, visible veins may result from a health condition that could indicate the start of a more serious problem. So if you’re asking “why are my veins so visible,” then determining the answer requires a vascular specialist to conduct a visual analysis as well as possible testing in order to determine if they’re healthy.
When Are Visible Veins Healthy
Visible veins when you exercise indicate you’re healthy, and the cardiovascular system is working as it should.
If you exercise regularly, especially weight lifting, you’ll notice your veins protrude from your skin more because you have less fat. Additionally, it occurs because lifting affects the size and density of the soft tissue, ultimately making the veins more visible when you relax.
Weightlifting places pressure on the veins, which makes them less flexible. As a result, the veins bulge and become more noticeable when you lift. You might always have visible veins after losing weight. This is also why thinner individuals tend to have more prominent veins.
Skin Complexion and Thickness
People who have fair skin or light hair are more likely to have visible veins. You might notice your veins become more evident as you age as a result of your skin losing elasticity and becoming thinner. You also lose fat and muscle in many cases as you age, which also contributes to veins becoming more pronounced. This is a normal part of the aging process.
Sometimes, the veins are apparent because they’re closer to the surface of the skin. The veins in the legs – the veins responsible for carrying small portions of blood to the heart – tend to be closer to the skin.
5 Quick Questions to Evaluate Your Vein Health
Genetics and Hormone Imbalance
Genetics increases your likelihood of having bulging or visible veins. You might notice your veins become better seen during the summer months since heat enlarges the veins. Not to mention, the higher temperatures make your vascular system work harder, causing veins to appear more prominent.
Moreover, hormone imbalances lead to veins becoming more visible. During pregnancy and menopause, hormone levels change and become unbalanced from what your body were accustomed to, which causes the veins to protrude.
In addition to the hormone changes, pregnancy increases pressure on the veins because the blood volume a woman has increased 20 to 40 percent, making the veins work harder to carry blood to the heart. To account for the increase, the blood vessels expand. The changes caused by pregnancy are temporary and usually subside once a woman gives birth.
When Should I Worry About Visible Veins
If you’re asking, “why are my veins so visible,” it may signal a problem like varicose veins or thrombophlebitis.
Both conditions could require treatment to prevent potential discomfort or serious complications.
Spider veins are usually found on the face or legs. These veins have a similar appearance to a spider web, earning them their name. They appear purple, red or blue in color.
Varicose veins are dark blue in color and look swollen or distorted. You might notice the sticking out of your skin. Those who have a job where they’re on their feet frequently – such as a nurse or teacher – experience the condition more frequently.
Another reason veins can become visible is a condition called thrombophlebitis, where the veins bulge as a result of blood clots that usually form in the legs. The clot may break off and flow to the lungs, causing a condition known as a pulmonary embolism.
Cellulitis is an infection caused by bacteria entering the skin. The infection could spread to the blood vessels and cause redness and swelling that can make the veins look more visible.
You should contact a vascular specialist if you have any of the following symptoms in addition to visible veins:
- Veins that bleed
- Veins that are red in color
- Veins that are sore
- Veins that are warm to the touch
You’ll also want to take note of any changes in the texture or color of the skin surrounding the protruding veins. Look for sore skin or rashes around the veins. You’ll also want to seek the assistance of a specialist if you have painful varicose veins.
May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS) and Blood Clots
May-Thurner Syndrome (MTS), also otherwise called an Iliac Vein Compression Syndrome, is a condition that causes asymmetrical swelling in your lower extremities. The left leg will swell but not the right. It stems from the left iliac vein preventing normal venous drainage and leading to swelling. Left untreated, MTS can sometimes develop into a more serious condition known as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). This is where a blood clots develop in the deep veins of your leg intertwined beneath the muscle.
Although this condition is usually uncommon, a vascular specialist can evaluate your condition and determine the underlying cause. We treat the root of the issue, which helps relieve swelling and your discomfort, as well as lowers your risk of recurrence.
Venous ulcers are open wounds which occur on the legs or ankles. They often develop when blood is not circulated properly and begins to pool in the veins. This accumulation of blood is caused by venous insufficiency which accounts to over 80 percent of all ulcers.
These slow or non-healing wounds can lead to serious medical problems like infection and skin discoloration. This is why it’s important to understand their cause and what you should do if you notice any symptoms.
Skin discoloration often is a result of damaged vein valves allowing blood to pool within the legs. When the blood is allowed to pool for an extended amount of time, it can make the surrounding tissue inflamed. Changes in skin color often start off small and often look like a bruise. Once the vein disease has worsened, the skin may become dry or cracked resulting in an open wound. Many people often think applying lotion or ointment is enough to treat skin changes caused by vein disease; however, it’s important to know that unless the root issue is treated, skin changes will not get better.
What Should I Do About Unhealthy Visible Veins?
Unhealthy visible veins are a sign of an underlying circulation issues. It could also be an indication that you require treatment from a vascular specialist.
The first step of the treatment process entails determining the problem. If you visit the office inquiring, “why are my veins so visible” and the specialist isn’t completely positive about the reason, testing may be necessary.
For instance, the doctor may utilize ultrasound technology. The doctor moves a wand-like device over the area with the pronounced veins. The wand sends sound waves throughout the legs to view inside of them. Ultrasound technology is able to distinguish between superficial and deep veins, which helps confirm or diagnose the problem.
Another possible test the vascular specialist will conduct is blood testing. In almost all cases of blood clots, the patient has a natural increase in the clot-dissolving substance known as D dimer. This test isn’t 100-percent effective since other conditions cause an increase in this substance, but an increase in D dimer signifies the doctor needs to conduct further testing.
Treatment of Varicose and Spider Veins
ClariVein is a technique of treating venous insufficiency, including varicose or spider veins, without the use of laser energy. It is a catheter-based treatment that simultaneously uses mechanical and chemical methods to treat the damaged area.
Since no major incision is made and none of the tissue surrounding the affected area is damaged, there is very little chance of scarring or bruising. After their ClariVein® treatment, patients are able to return to normal activities almost immediately.
Endovenous Laser Treatment
An Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) targets the underlying issue of vein disease. Vein valves that become damaged or disease fail to circulate blood flow up from the legs toward the heart. EVLT works to close those unhealthy veins so healthy veins are able to take over. The specialist makes a tiny incision in the skin using a small laser fiber catheter using laser energy. The specialist may use an ultrasound to position the laser perfectly. It treats spider veins and varicose veins of any size located close to the surface of the skin and takes about 15 minutes.
When we use lasers, we use highly focused beams of light. The heat from the laser damages the vein, creating scar tissue that closes it. Over time, the vein closes and eventually fades away once the vein doesn’t have a blood source. Generally, the vein disappears after a year or two.
Varithena is a foam-based vein treatment designed to treat diseased veins. This foam treatment is the only vein treatment of its kind to be approved by the FDA for improving the appearance and symptoms of varicose veins in the Great Saphenous Vein (GSV) system.
Varithena can help reduce your risk of developing progressive vein disease and other complications such as venous ulcers and Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT).
Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy (USGS) treats symptoms of venous insufficiency by closing malfunctioning veins from the inside. Being able to accurately map the diseased veins in your legs helps us identify the source of the surface varicosities and treat these abnormalities.
Then, a sclerosant solution is injected into the veins which thicken the blood in the vessel and irritates the vessel’s walls; this causes the vein to collapse and seal off. After treatment, the vein tissue is then naturally absorbed by the body.
A treatment we utilize to treat spider veins is called visual sclerotherapy – an injectable treatment that irritates the vein. The latest sclerotherapy is a foam. Then, scar tissue forms that closes off the vein and reroutes your circulation around the area. The vein reabsorbs into your body. Typically, this treatment causes the veins to fade over the course of a few weeks, although it could take up to a month to see the full extent of the results. Sclerotherapy works on both varicose and spider veins. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and has minimal side effects, unlike traditional treatments.
Schedule Vein Disease Treatment
Whether you already know you have underlying vein disease or want to get checked, it’s important to not ignore your symptoms. Many people do not prioritize their vein health and will leave varicose or spider veins untreated, which can lead to worsening symptoms in the future. If you’re experiencing discomfort, our vascular specialists are here to answer all of your questions about vein disease and treatment.
Getting effective vein disease treatment has gotten even easier. If you don’t have time to visit one of our clinics for a consultation, don’t worry! You can also request a telmedicine consultation, which allows you to consult with one of our vein specialists from the comfort of your home. Our in-office and telemedicine consultations and are covered by most insurance plans, including Medicare and Medicaid.
If you want to verify your coverage before you schedule an appointment, just give us a call at 888.768.3467.