We’ve talked a lot in this blog recently about how visible veins can signify an underlying issue – so let’s change tack today! Sometimes, it’s perfectly normal for them to become more visible!
So – today we’ll take a detour through:
- What causes veins to be more visible than usual – normal reasons
- When you should worry about visible veins
- Tips to help prevent or treat them
- What to do if you’re worried about visible veins
What Causes Visible Veins?
Veins that are visible can be a source of concern for you, particularly if they appear on areas you don’t always cover, such as your face, legs, and arms.
They can cause you to feel embarrassed and insecure socially – self-conscious instead of enjoying life. And then you start to worry they might be a sign of something bad.
But rest assured. In most cases, they’re
- not indicative of a medical problem, but
- simply natural responses to bodily functions.
Visible veins can be caused by a variety of factors such as:
As your skin loses its elasticity and becomes weaker and thinner, your veins become more pronounced.
This is where there’s nothing much you can do! If visible veins run in your family, you may well have them too.
When you have (very) fair, almost translucent skin, your veins are more visible.
Low Body Fat
If you’re on the slender side, your veins will stand out more in parts of the body that don’t have a lot of fat, such as your hands, arms, back, and behind the knees.
If you work out a lot, the increased pressure on your muscles requires them to work more and thus expand and stand out. Weightlifting and resistance training in general will cause the muscles to swell and push the veins closer to the skin.
This is a hard one to swallow, granted we need to exercise to stay healthy! Just don’t worry when you notice those visible veins while training.
Hormonal Changes or Imbalances
During puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, hormonal changes can cause increased blood flow and so your veins are more noticeable.
During pregnancy, for example, many women notice spider veins and/or varicose veins – but they will nearly always disappear after your child is born.
Another example is that if you’re a woman taking birth control for the first time, you might also experience visible veins. Do discuss this with your healthcare provider if the veins worry you.
Prolonged Sitting or Standing – or Both!
If you often have to sit or stand for a long time without taking breaks, your veins might become more visible. That can be your cue to move to a different position!
Hot weather and hot baths increase blood flow, causing your veins to expand and become more noticeable temporarily.
Intense sun exposure and sunburn can cause veins to stand out more, especially if you have pale skin.
When Should I Worry About Visible Veins?
Visible veins aren’t necessarily a sign of poor health, as we’ve just seen in our quick resumé. In general, therefore, they’re not something you should worry about. They’re often harmless and not indicative of any underlying health issues.
If visible veins are something you’ve always lived with – or are showing because of those other completely normal reasons we’ve talked about – then there’s nothing to worry about.
But there are times when your veins will tell you more – and that will be your cue that there’s more at stake. So keep an eye open for these symptoms:
- (Extremely) bulging veins
- Veins changing color
- Wounds that won’t heal
- Skin discoloration
- Itchiness, swelling, and aches around your veins
- Any sharp pain that might indicate a blood clot
- Restless leg problems
Are There Any Prevention Tips?
Despite some factors that you cannot control such as aging, hormones, and genetics, you can have a say about visible veins to a certain extent – and help prevent the wrong kind!
As always, having a balanced approach to your lifestyle and wellness is the safest course of action.
Here are five tips to start you off:
1 Visible veins often start to appear after 30 years of age. While we cannot stop the aging process, you can be one step ahead by discussing with your GP how to prevent them or treat existing ones.
2 A healthy diet and moderate exercise routine will keep your weight in check and your veins ‘invisible’. Being overweight puts excess pressure on your veins and makes them more noticeable.
3 Reduce alcohol consumption and smoking. Drinking alcohol causes the veins to temporarily dilate, and long-term smoking can thicken your blood. In such cases, the veins will work overtime, become more prominent – and you might end up with bulging veins.
4 Find the balance in your life. High levels of stress can increase your blood pressure and weaken your veins, which causes them to be more visible.
5 Make sure to wear sun protection all year round and avoid being outside when UV rays are the strongest and most damaging (10am – 4pm).
6 Wear compression stockings when travelling long distances by car or plane. This not only helps your veins and improves blood flow. It helps your legs feel better.
How Can I Get Rid of Visible Veins?
If visible veins are bothering you – even if they’re non-threatening – you can still opt for treating them.
There are several ways of reducing or making visible veins completely invisible. You’ll probably remember these by now!
- Ultrasound guided medical sclerotherapy is a popular option for reducing the appearance of veins. It involves injecting a solution into the vein that causes it to shrink and eventually disappear. This procedure is usually done following a more invasive procedure (below).
- Ambulatory phlebotomy removes veins through small punctures in the skin.
- Endovenous Laser Ablation of the Saphenous Vein (ELAS) uses heat to target the veins and make them less visible.
- Visual Sclerotherapy (Sclero) – this procedure is to treat more surface veins, or spider veins that insurance doesn’t deem medically necessary to treat. These veins are usually located on the face, chest, hands and legs.
Keep Your Vein Health in Check!
If none of the normal situations we’ve mentioned apply to your visible veins and you’re worried, get in touch with your healthcare practitioner or your local vein center.
In some cases, visible veins can be a sign of a medical condition, such as venous insufficiency or varicose veins. It’s good to catch it early.
Even if you simply want them gone for cosmetic reasons, a vein professional will be able to assess your individual situation and provide advice on the best course of action.
Image © Denvervein.com