Our blood moves through the body via blood vessels with the goal of reaching our heart. But when blood has a hard time being transported, it can pool up in our veins. This can manifest itself as bulging or popping veins in our hands, legs, and feet. These swollen veins can look unappealing and really show off our age.
The good news is most bulging veins aren’t actually a sign of poor health. But there are instances where they may arise from an underlying disease. Whatever the cause or effect, let’s discuss everything you need to know about bulging veins.
5 Common Causes of Bulging Veins
Bulging veins can be identified by their rope-like shape and bluish-green tone. While they’re not an inherent health threat, none of us want to have them on our skin. So what’s the real cause? Here are some of the reasons why bulging veins appear:
- Aging: As we age, our skin gets thinner and less elastic, making our blood vessels more visible. While not particularly desirable, it’s all part of the aging process.
- Genetics: Having family members with bulging veins increases your chances of getting them.
- Hot Weather: Heat can make veins more prominent and enlarged. Because they have to work harder in high temperatures, veins become more visible.
- Hormone Imbalance: Pregnancy or menopause can lead to a hormone imbalance. One of the symptoms is bulging veins. Pregnancy may also put pressure on veins, making it harder for blood flow to get back to the heart.
- Exercise: Heavy lifting for long periods of time can make blood flow increase. The muscles harden, causing more visible blood vessels. Over-stretching can also play a role in making veins pop out.
- Blood Clots: Also known as thrombophlebitis, this condition can cause swollen veins that feel tough.
- Body Fat Loss: Our skin has a layer of fat that serves as an insulator. When you lose weight, that layer thins, making veins more visible.
- Health Conditions: Underlying heart problems can cause a chronic increase in blood pressure. This weakens the veins and can cause popping.
The causes of bulging veins differ from that of varicose veins. Varicose veins are often caused by damaged or weakened valves. Not all bulging veins are varicose veins, deeming them generally harmless. But if they cause pain and discomfort, it may be an underlying problem from untreated varicose veins. Let’s explain.
Are Bulging Veins the Same as Varicose Veins?
There are a few ways to tell the difference between a regular bulging vein and varicose veins. The first is where the vein is located. Bulging veins can pop up in various places. But varicose veins usually show up on your legs. This is where blood has to work the hardest to travel back to your heart.
Though similar in appearance, varicose and bulging veins have a slightly different look to them. They both have a rope-like structure. But varicose veins are generally larger and more twisted. Bulging veins are smaller with a green-blue hue. Varicose veins have a more purple-blue color.
Symptoms can help you identify whether you’re dealing with bulging or varicose veins. Bulging veins can be purely aesthetic and may have no real symptoms. Varicose veins; however, come with pain, discomfort, swelling, changes in skin texture, and even ulcers.
Can Bulging Veins Go Away?
Usually, bulging veins will go away on their own. Especially ones that are caused by exercise or hot weather. But if popping veins run in your family or come from underlying conditions, you may need treatment to help them go away. Here are some options:
- Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs can help decrease the swelling of bulging veins.
- Sclerotherapy injects a chemical solution into targeted veins and makes them close.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy is the removal of the targeted veins via small incisions. While you’re under general anesthesia, your doctor will make an incision, tie off the vein, and remove it. The blood that used to run in the vein is automatically shifted and the closed vein eventually fades away.
What Can You Do To Prevent Bulging Veins From Forming?
As we’ve learned, bulging veins often have genetic causes. So while we can’t always stop them from forming, there are things we can do to lessen the appearance of bulging veins or prevent new ones from popping up.
Improve Your Heart Rate, Reduce Your Weight
Routine exercise improves circulation, prevents blood from pooling in veins, and helps with weight loss. Being overweight puts extra pressure on your veins. This increases your chances of developing bulging veins. So maintaining a healthy diet and workout routine is an advantageous step in treating or preventing bulging veins.
Sport a Pro-Vein Wardrobe
Wearing tight clothing could actually be the cause of your vein problems. Overly fitted garments restrain blood flow, which can then cause bulging veins to form. Sporting a loose-fitting, free-flowing wardrobe can help. And to further reduce your risk, compression socks can even out the pressure on your veins and prevent blood pooling.
Switch up Your Position
Refrain from standing, sitting, or crossing your legs for extended periods of time. Doing so can cause blood to pool in your veins. Elevating your legs to a position higher than your heart can also improve blood flow. Taking periodic breaks and stretching are both helpful ways to prevent and lessen bulging veins.
Trade Bad Habits for Healthy Ones
We all know that smoking is bad for us. It damages our blood vessels and restricts blood flow. This enlarges your veins and can cause them to bulge out. If you don’t want this to happen, stop smoking and start drinking—water that is. Getting lots of hydration keeps the blood flowing. This reduces pressure on your veins and can even help with skin elasticity.
When All Else Fails, Bulging Veins Can Be Fixed
Bulging veins are not a serious medical issue for the majority of people. But if you’re concerned that your popping veins are something serious (or if you just don’t like the way they look) make an appointment with a vein doctor.
If there’s a serious problem with your veins, a doctor can recommend treatment. And if you want them removed for cosmetic purposes, they can also make a suggestion for the best procedure. If bulging veins are a sign of a more serious condition, your doctor will offer specific medical treatments.