One person has noticed visible veins on their upper torso and arms, and is wondering whether this could signify a medical problem or is, instead, a completely normal phenomenon. Judging by the many people who joined the thread asking the same question, rather than offering possible answers, visible veins are a common issue for people to be worried about.
Should they? Are visible veins in the upper body normal, or something you should see your doctor about?
What do the experts say?
Dr Amir Shaban told SteadyHealth that most veins aren't visible in the majority of people because they're "covered with two layers of skin and a layer of fat", and that fat loss, thinning skin, or more blood in the veins could be responsible for the gradual appearance of visible veins. One factor or a combination of factors may cause visible veins, and both harmless and more serious things can be to blame.
Some factors that influence the appearance of visible veins that may — as many SteadyHealth members pointed out — "look like someone drew on the skin with a marker" include:
- Age. Since layers of fat and thicker skin can both "cushion" the veins and make it so that we can't see them and age can both lead to fat loss and thinning skin, it's not usual for veins to become more prominent as you get older. This is not necessarily a medical concern at all.
- Genetics. Not only are some people so fair-skinned that they almost "glow in the dark" as it were, allowing veins to be more visible, people with immediate relatives who have visible veins are also more likely to have them themselves.
- Hormones. Many women report that the veins around their chest area are more visible during pregnancy, in the lead-up to their period and during menstrual flow, and while they are breastfeeding. This is the result of hormones and resulting increased blood flow in that area of the body.
- Weight loss. Since having more fat makes your veins less visible, losing quite a bit of weight may mean you also notice your veins more. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
- Exercise. Doing things like bodybuilding, wherein you really work your upper body, can also, Dr Shaban said, cause increased vascularity within that region.
- Smoking. Smoking causes premature aging of all parts of the body, including the skin — once again thinning it and contributing to the appearance of visible veins.
It's also possible that your more visible and dark veins are indeed the result of an underlying medical problem that may need treatment, however.
Varicose veins are twisted and swollen veins mostly associated with the legs, while spider veins are a similar phenomenon of smaller twisty veins — often seen in the chest, among other places. Many of the same factors contribute to the appearance of these two, and physical inactivity does, too, along with obesity. Lifestyle changes like losing weight, moving around more, and wearing loose clothing can help with them. They can also be treated surgically, including with laser treatment.
Spider veins in the chest area can also be a symptom of liver cirrhosis, which also tends to cause fatigue, weight loss, a lack of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, and later on jaundice and edema (fluid buildup) — symptoms some SteadyHealth members reported but most of which can also be associated with pregnancy in young, healthy, women.
If you're young, apparently healthy, and have no other symptoms besides visible veins, it's unlikely that your veins signify a serious medical problem — especially if you are very light-skinned and thin. If your veins have suddenly become much more visible than before, however, and you're worried or also have other symptoms, it's time to check in with your doctor so they can rule underlying problems in or out. In the best case scenario, they'll tell you you have nothing to worry about, but if you need treatment, timely diagnosis is always beneficial.
Questions people posed about visible and often dark veins included:
- What is this?
- Did you ever find out what caused the appearance of your dark blue veins.
- does this mean we have too much CO2 in our bodies?
- Ive had veins in my breasts for about a week now and also got spots around my nipples i have vens in my arms and have noticed a few in my belly what can this mean there really dark blue and very visible im on the pill and i dont know weather it could be that doing it but i doubt it because ive been on that for a while now and only just got this i did miss a pill but ive took a pregnancy test and its negative do you think i could be pregnant?
- are they going to be permanent?
Some people even reported other symptoms that accompanied dark veins — which were most likely a new phenomenon for them.
- This past week I had an episode coming out of a patients house, (I work for hospice), And I all of the sudden got very faint and had a stabbing chest pain on the left side of my chest and left arm felt really wierd.
- It felt kinda like circulation was cut off.
- And it is really sore and tender.
- i am a young female adult who recently started on birth control, ive noticed dark blue veins showing through my skin not like usual, on my pelvis chest and forearms.
- ive also experienced left leg pain and heart pain which i thought was heartburn but these symptoms also could lead to blood clotting which is common while taking birth control.
What should a person do when they suddenly notice more prominent veins, especially if they also have some other symptoms? SteadyHealth members shared their thoughts:
- Test again when you are 2 weeks late.
- See your doctor if you still haven't had a cycle.
- Keep a watch and see if they come n go.
- depending on how dehydrated you are your veins might look wonky for a bit yet but in a matter of hours you'll see great improvement if it doesn't go away entirely.
- So MIO it, chill it, ice it, throw a wedge of lime in there, do what you gotta do to down that H2O!