Many people that have bulging blue veins on their arms ask questions like, “Can I get varicose veins in the arm?” and “Do I need varicose vein treatment on my arm?”
It is possible to get varicose veins in the arm, i.e. damaged vein valves and a weakened vein wall causing blood to stagnate in a vein and deform it. However, it is far less common to get varicose veins in the arm than in the legs. Further, you should not assume that you have varicose veins in the arm or you need varicose vein treatment in the arm just because you see a vein bulging out in your arm. There are several other possibilities.
You’ll notice that most bulging superficial blue veins in the arm become larger during exercise. Sometimes too, they shrink again after exercise. This has to do with normal biological process known as filtration. When people exercise the pressure in the arteries goes up. At the same time, the veins constrict in a process called venoconstriction. This causes the blood in the veins to move toward the heart. It also allows the blood from the capillaries to pour into the veins more easily.
As this happens, the pressure in the veins drops even lower than normal, so it is untrue what people sometimes say that arm veins bulge out during exercise because there’s more pressure in them. Although counterintuitive, the exact opposite occurs and pressure drops in the arm veins during exercise. At the same time, the capillaries which are receiving extra blood from the higher pressure arteries start to release their plasma into the muscle, causing the muscle to get hard and expand. This pushes the superficial veins associated with these muscles much closer to the surface of the skin. This makes them appear to “bulge” out or at least makes them more noticeable. These are NOT varicose veins and do not require varicose vein treatment.
You should also realize that veins in the arms will show more the less fat you have. In fact, this is the preferred “look” in the bodybuilding community. If you are a body builder and you have lost enough fat under your arm skin that your veins are clearly defined, even when you are not exercising, this is referred to as vascularity. People admire this achievement and consider it a significant sign of success. It is not a sign that you need varicose vein treatment, although if you have any doubt, you should get a duplex ultrasound at a varicose vein treatment clinic to make sure.
When there is a a true varicose vein on the arm, there is a higher likelihood it is due to a physical injury or a congenital condition (present at birth) than you’d find on the legs. The only way to know for sure is to have a duplex ultrasound performed on your arm veins. This diagnostic test gives a three dimensional view of the inside of your veins, including superficial veins at the surface of the skin and deeper veins. It also shows the direction of blood flow within your veins to see if the vein valves are functioning properly and preventing the back flow of blood. Hidden blood clots can also be detected during a duplex ultrasound.
Veins in the arms may be more noticeable on some people that others for a variety of other reasons too. For example, if a person has a fair complexion, the superficial veins in their arms will tend to show through more. Keep in mind that the skin in the arm tends to be thinner than the skin in the legs. Also, as people age, the collagen fibers in their skin begins to break down. At this point, the veins in their arms and hands may start to stick out more than they did when they were younger. None of this means they need varicose vein treatment in their arms for medical reasons.
There are times when a person may wish to have a blue vein on their arm treated for cosmetic reasons only. In these cases, they must first have a thorough duplex ultrasound to ensure this is safe to do. If it is determined it would be safe, the same type of varicose vein treatment procedures that is used on true varicose veins is often used on these cosmetic arm vein procedures. These procedures include chemical injections of a sclerosant that causes the vein to collapse and disappear or micro incisions where the vein is remove little piece by little piece. These varicose vein treatment procedures are called sclerotherapy and ambulatory phlebectomy (microphlebectomy) respectively.
If you have blue veins on your arms that are bothering you, you can call Metro Vein Centers and schedule a free evaluation. Metro Vein Centers is a leading varicose vein treatment center with several locations within the United States. Metro Vein Centers has some of the best board certified vein specialists in the country.