Veins are covered with two layers the skin and a layer of fat located underneath the skin, and that's why veins are not visible in the majority of people.
Veins become visible when the skin becomes thinner or when they are filled with more blood. Visible veins could be caused by benign conditions or rarely pathological conditions.
The thickness of the fat layer differs from person to person and decreases as we get older. This layer usually is thicker in females than in males, and thicker in children comparing to adults.
Usually the skin becomes thinner with age. As these layers become thinner veins become more visible. In addition each person has a different skin pigment concentration resulting in different skin color. Therefore some people have skin that is more translucent and allows the veins to be more visible.
Another common reason for visible veins is the increased vascularity seen in bodybuilders due to higher blood volume flowing to the muscles during exercise. These visible veins are benign and there is no reason to worry about them.
Pregnancy is another reason for prominent veins, as the fetus becomes bigger it pushes against the abdominal veins causing the blood to accumulate in the legs.
Smoking usually fastens the aging of the skin contributing to the thinner looking skin and the more visible veins.
Inside the veins there are one-way valves. These valves allow the blood to flow against the gravity and prevent blood flowing back in the wrong direction.
When you have a job where you spend a long time standing, the blood pools in your legs and this may cause the wall of the vein to become weaker in some parts. If this occurs near a valve then the valve will become leaky and blood will flow backwards resulting in varicose veins.
Most often varicose veins are asymptomatic and need no treatment although they are often treated for cosmetic reasons.
It is important to see a doctor if varicose veins were associated with pain, swelling or redness which may point to a complication.
It is always a good idea to see your general practitioner who would be able to examine you and make sure there is no serious cause for the change in appearance of your veins.
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