May 7, 2021
Although varicose veins most commonly occur in the legs and feet, they can actually develop on any part of the body. The majority of sufferers experience vein disease in the lower half of their body, but one quarter of all adults are affected in the face, hands, arms and even genitals.
If you’re concerned about varicose veins appearing on unexpected parts of your body, rest assured that these are all perfectly normal (though perhaps not always welcome). While there is mostly no cause for immediate concern, if your veins are causing you pain or discomfort, this can lead to more serious conditions and seeing a specialist is advised.
Let’s take a look at some of the places unhealthy veins can appear.
Varicose veins that appear on the face are most frequently thread veins - also known as spider veins due to their spindly appearance. Medically referred to as ‘telangiectasia’, these red or purple veins are smaller and thinner than the varicose veins that might appear on the legs.
Thread veins can develop anywhere on the body but are most commonly found on the legs or face, particularly the cheeks, nose or chin. This is because the skin is thinner in these areas, which increases the visibility of enlarged veins near the surface.
Thread veins are extremely common - 20% of women in their 20s and 50% of women in their 40s experience them. They are usually caused by a genetic predisposition, but external factors can include overexposure to the sun or excessive consumption of alcohol.
Although thought of as a women’s issue, varicose veins also affect men, and anyone can develop vein disease in their pelvic region.
Pregnant women commonly develop vulvar varicose veins due to increased pressure against their blood vessels from their growing womb. This is a natural response and varicose veins in the genital area will not affect labour. Vein health tends to improve quickly after childbirth and varicose veins usually disappear six months postpartum.
Men can also suffer from vein disease in their scrotum which can contribute to the growth of varicoceles. This can affect the quality and quantity of sperm produced, as well as fertility.
Enlarged varicose veins in the pelvis and lower abdomen can also contribute to pelvic congestion syndrome as a precursor to chronic pelvic pain. This condition is most commonly found in women who have had multiple children.
Enlarged veins are commonly found in the hands of older adults, but younger people can also be affected, causing their hands to look aged beyond their years. People with a low body fat percentage can sometimes appear to have varicose veins due to having less subcutaneous fat (the fat just below the skin), despite having healthy veins.
As people get older, their skin becomes thinner and loses its elasticity while the organs in the body become weaker. As vein walls and valves become weaker, the blood can pool in the veins, leading them to bulge.
Varicose veins can also develop in the hands as a result of blunt trauma. The fact that we use our hands so frequently can leave them prone to accidental injury. An external physical trauma can damage or weaken the valves in blood vessels and reduce their efficiency, potentially causing varicose veins.
Varicose veins can also appear on the arms for similar reasons as they do in the hands.
Varicose veins in the arm can worsen if you frequently wear tight-fitting clothes that restrict blood circulation. If your symptoms are painful, wear looser clothing or - if the weather permits! - short sleeves.
Hot weather can also cause your veins to protrude more than usual as the warmer temperature relaxes and enlarges the veins in your arm.
Gym goers who enjoy lifting heavy weights may also have what appear to be varicose veins. However, their prominent veins are a sign of vascularity as a result of frequent intensive exercise. Exercise improves blood pressure and continuous high-impact exercise contributes to leaner muscle mass, which may cause your veins to appear to stick out permanently.
If your Veins Bother you...
If you have varicose veins in any of these areas, bear in mind that even if they aren’t as common, they are still perfectly normal, and usually nothing to worry about. However, if your veins are causing you pain, you should seek treatment before they worsen and potentially impact your health.
Whether you’re concerned about your vein health or would like to get your veins treated for aesthetic purposes, you can book a free consultation with the specialists at UK Vein Clinic today.
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