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Elderly Womans Hands

Bulging Veins

By

Healthgrades Editorial Staff

What are bulging veins?

Bulging of the veins is a symptom that commonly occurs in different conditions, such as thrombophlebitis, pregnancy, older age, and congenitally defective valves in the veins. Varicose veins are dilated, often distorted, and swollen veins that may be painful. Varicose veins are most frequently seen in the legs.

Veins have valves that act as one-way flaps to prevent blood from flowing backward as it moves up the legs. Bulging of the veins results when the valves do not function properly, allowing the blood to pool and enlarge the vein. It may occur in conditions affecting the vein itself or in association with more generalized conditions, such as pregnancy and aging. Inflammation and swelling of a vein (thrombophlebitis) is a common cause of bulging veins. Other common causes include lack of movement and obesity. Obstructions to the flow of blood in the veins can also cause bulging.

Pregnancy can lead to bulging veins in some women. Pregnancy increases the volume of blood within the body but decreases the flow of blood from the legs to the pelvis. The decreased blood flow from the legs can result in bulging veins in the legs. Bulging veins may worsen during late pregnancy, when the uterus exerts greater pressure on the veins in the legs.

Advancing age can also cause bulging veins. The aging process can cause veins to weaken and lose elasticity, and they become unable to effectively push the blood back toward the heart. As blood pools in the veins, they become enlarged and bulge.

In some cases, bulging of the veins can be a symptom of a serious condition. Seek prompt medical care if you experience bulging veins along with skin ulcers or sudden swelling in the area of the bulging veins. These are symptoms of peripheral vascular disease and blood clots. In addition, if your bulging veins are persistent or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Sep 27, 2016

© 2017 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Varicose veins and venous insufficiency. PubMed Health, a service of the NLM from the NIH. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002099/
  2. Varicose veins and spider veins fact sheet. WomensHealth.gov. http://www.womenshealth.gov/publications/our-publications/fact-sheet/varicose-spider-veins.html

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