Why Do I Have Blue Veins on My Legs?


If you've noticed blue veins showing from beneath the skin on your legs, it's not uncommon. Many people wonder why blue veins appear and if it means something is wrong. The fact is, for many people, visible leg veins are completely normal. For others, however, it could be an indication of an underlying vein condition. In this video, I discuss what causes them and how to tell whether or not they are normal.

Why Do Veins Appear Blue?

First of all, if blood is red, why do veins appear blue? There are two reasons. First, blood that has oxygen in it is red, but after it passes through the tissues, oxygen is removed and the blood becomes dark. The second reason is because of the way different colors are seen through the skin. Different colors have different wavelengths. When the eye sees the veins through layers of skin, the dark color is filtered out, and the eye sees the color blue. It is not because the blood is blue. 

Why Do Some People Have Visible Blue Veins and Others Don't?

For some, leg veins are more or less visible because of the color of the skin. Different shades of skin allow the veins to be seen more easily than others. It's because of a skin pigment called melanin. Fair-skinned people have less melanin, and the veins are more easily seen through lighter skin. The darker your skin, the more melanin the skin has and the more difficult it is to see the veins. So...depending on your skin tone, visible blue veins could be perfectly normal. 


How to Know When Blue Leg Veins are the Result of a Vein Condition?

Visible blue veins in the legs can indicate abnormal circulation. When circulation is not normal, blood tends to pool in the legs and causes pressure in the veins. When they are under pressure, they begin to enlarge. Enlarged veins that are the result of the abnormal circulation, or a vein condition, are typically seen in the thigh, on the inside of the calf, and on the outer thigh. Sometimes there is enough pressure that has built up over time that the veins also will pop out from beneath the skin's surface, and may appear ropey and curvey. 

When visible leg veins are the result of a vein condition, they are typically accompanied by additional symptoms. Most people I treat also complain of burning, itching, throbbing, or aching. A vein condition causes inflammation around the veins, and the body doesn't like it. It causes an inflammation response and that is what leads to the other symptoms. Other hallmark characteristics of a vein condition that are usually always present in some combination may include symptoms like fatigue especially in the evening, restlessness in the legs, and heaviness or swelling in the legs. Additionally, these symptoms tend to get better in the morning and worsen at night. 

The good news is that when visible blue leg veins are the result of a vein condition, treatment makes a significant difference both to improve the appearance and relieve the symptoms. The best way to get it all sorted out is to do a vein circulation screening


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