The human body contains over 60,000 miles of blood vessels, enough to go around the globe twice. Most of these miles can’t be seen from the outside of the body, but a few veins are usually visible. You may wonder why you can see some of your veins and not others.
You may also wonder if visible veins are healthy The short answer is that visible veins are usually nothing to worry about. Reviewing what we know about the circulatory system can explain why.
The Anatomy of Blood Vessels
Arteries carry oxygenated blood from the heart throughout the body. Once the oxygen has been delivered to the body, the blood moves into the capillaries, the tiniest blood vessels in the body. From there, it travels into small veins, called venules, and begins its trip back to the heart.
When the blood leaves the heart, it is under considerable pressure. Arteries must be thick and muscular to contain the pressure. Arteries also are mostly located deep in the body.
Veins run closer to the surface of the skin, so they are more visible. Veins also have thinner walls, because the blood has lost a lot of its pressure and is easily contained. This means that sometimes you can see the blood through the vein walls.
Although the blood in your veins has lost its oxygen, it is still red. Because you are seeing it through your skin, the veins often appear blue or purple. That’s because blue light has a short wavelength and is easily reflected back to your eye. That’s the same reason some water appears blue although it’s clear or brownish.
What Makes Some Veins Easy to See?
Certain factors can make veins more visible. These include:
- Thin skin. Some people have thicker skin than others. Also, our skin thins as we age.
- Less fat. Veins are more visible when a person is thin and doesn’t have much fat under the skin.
- Skin tone. Light-colored skin is more translucent and more likely to show veins.
- Pregnancy. Women who are pregnant carry a larger volume of blood, which can make veins stand out.
Veins often stand out when you exercise. This is because your muscles swell with physical activity, and the veins may be pushed to the surface of the skin.
Many fitness enthusiasts like the way the popped veins look. They work to achieve this look, which they call vascularity. It is usually a sign of low body fat and high muscle mass. But some people can achieve this look more easily than others, simply because of their genetic makeup.
What do healthy veins look like? Mostly you won’t see healthy veins at all. But bulging veins can be healthy veins, too.
Are Bulging Veins Ever Bad?
Veins that stick out aren’t always a sign of health and fitness. Varicose veins bulge because the blood isn’t moving through them quite so regularly.
Remember the blood in your veins isn’t under much pressure. It still has to travel all the way back to the heart, mostly moving uphill. To make this possible, the veins have little valves that keep the blood from going backward. Sometimes these valves don’t work as well as they should, and blood collects in one area, creating varicose veins.
Most varicose veins aren’t a health problem, but they can cause achiness and swelling, especially in the legs. They are often accompanied by smaller visible veins. These tiny blue or purple veins form a weblike pattern, giving them the name spider veins. No one knows for sure the exact cause of spider veins. Blood flow problems may be a factor, but some people have a natural tendency to form spider veins.
How to Identify Varicose Veins
How do you know if your visible veins are varicose veins? Here are signs and symptoms to look for:
- Varicose veins are often purple or bluish.
- They usually have a snake-like or twisted appearance.
- Your legs may feel heavy and achy.
- You may have burning, throbbing, or cramping pain in your lower legs.
- Symptoms may be worse if you’ve been on your feet a lot.
Can Varicose Veins Be Prevented or Cured?
There are some steps to take to prevent varicose veins. If you have a family history of them, you may still get some varicose veins, but they may not be as serious.
- Avoid standing for long periods of time. Take short walk breaks any time you have to be on your feet, or simply march in place. This will help the blood to move along.
- Lose weight if you are overweight. Extra pounds put stress on your veins.
- Exercise. Muscles help push the blood, and you don’t have to work out until your veins pop. Moderate exercisewill work.
- Try gradient compression stockings. These special stockings squeeze your legs to keep blood from pooling. They are tighter farther down on the leg to push the blood upward.
These steps may keep you from developing varicose veins, but once a vein has been stretched out, it won’t go back to its original state. If you are tired of varicose veins, there are some things you can do.
Treatment of Varicose Veins
If you are unhappy with the appearance of your veins, you should know that there are new treatment options for varicose and spider veins. This is true whether you are having problems with your veins or if you just don’t like how they look. Currently, there are six treatment options for varicose veins and three treatments for spider veins. Most health insurance policies will cover treatment for varicose veins.
Your first step should be to locate a medical specialist for varicose veins. If you need help with this step, My Vein Treatment has a tool to help you find a vein specialist. You’ll be able to ask all the questions that are on your mind about your veins and possible treatments. You could be on your way to looking better and maybe feeling better, too.