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A sudden presentation of veins on the surface of your breasts is understandably nerve-racking for patients. It can represent a number of different clinical scenarios ranging from something innocent to something more worrisome. Medical attention should be the primary reaction no matter what the underlying circumstance to make sure everything is okay. 

One of the most common reasons for the sudden appearance of visible veins on the surface of your breasts comes after breast augmentation surgery. Studies indicate that as household income levels rise, the frequency of women electing to increase the size of their breasts also follows suit. An unfortunate complication of breast augmentation surgery, however, is the increased pressure put on the skin and the eventual emergence of superficial veins that can be cosmetically unpleasing. In one study, it was determined that veins become more prominent in 96.2 percent of women having breast augmentation surgery in one investigation [1]. 

A reason that these veins appear on the surface of the breasts is due to significant trauma to the underlying soft tissue. This is a disease referred to as Mondor's disease and occurs when the sensitive glands and circulation under the breast is pinched beneath the implant. This can lead to significant discolorations of the skin as well as engorgement of the superficial veins as the normal drainage system is now clogged. This is not considered a medical emergency so patients will not require surgery, but will need to take a course of non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) as well as blood-thinning medications like heparin in order to help dilate the blood to pass. Symptoms typically will resolve spontaneously after a few weeks of this treatment. [2]

Another circumstance that can lead to visible veins presenting on the surface of the breasts also can be seen in patients who notice their breasts suddenly becoming larger. These patients, however, are not undergoing elective surgeries but will likely be pregnant. The main underlying reason that these veins appear is due to the change in hormone levels in the body. Estrogen and progesterone levels increase during pregnancy naturally in order to prepare the uterus to house the developing fetus. These hormones help increase the blood supply from maternal tissues to the growing baby and will not be localized to only the uterus. Estrogen will also circulate in the maternal blood stream and come to the breasts where numerous estrogen receptors can also be noted. Estrogen will cause blood vessels to grow as the woman approaches her delivery date in order to make the breasts bigger and more efficient at storing breast milk for the baby. After pregnancy, veins may not be as prominent and simple OCPs are enough to return the breast to pre-pregnancy appearances. 

More malignant sources of superficial veins appearing on your breast are linked with breast cancers. Like in Mondor's Disease, there will be blockage of blood and lymph fluid from the breast to the rest of the body if there is a tumor near the entrance of the opening of blood entering the breast. Unfortunately, this is the location where most breast cancer will begin and patients noticing superficial veins should urgently go to their gynecologist for a mammography screening. The best way to present this from happening is to have annual breast cancer screenings once a patient passes the age of 40. 

Even if most of the time this presentation will be innocent in nature, due to the high prevalence and mortality of breast cancer worldwide, women should immediately check out any irregular presentation as soon as it appears in order to make sure treatment for malignant conditions can happen as soon as possible to increase their chances of survival. 

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