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Blue Veins: An Illinois Vein Specialist Explains Why They Appear Blue

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Why Are Veins Are Blue

Red blood is carried around your body by arteries and veins—so why do they show up as blue under your skin?  There’s a simple answer to that. 

Usually, blue veins are nothing to worry about. But sometimes they can be the sign of poor vein health. Read on to find out all about what your vein color means and vein warning signs to look out for. We’ve even included simple tips to keep your vein health in tip-top shape!

Causes & Symptoms

Blue or dark-colored veins are normal and healthy, although it can be a bit strange seeing dark blue veins pop up on your skin. 

Veins look blue because of the way our eyes process light waves and color. When red light hits your skin, its longer wavelengths reach deep into where your veins are located. The red blood in veins absorbs the light. Blue light doesn’t travel as deep as red light does due to its shorter wavelengths. This means that it’s deflected from the skin. Our eyes catch that deflection and process the color blue. Thus, veins look blue instead of red.

Blue veins are common on the chest and legs. Other factors that impact the color and visibility of your veins include:

Are Blue Veins Healthy?

If you’ve always had blue veins, you don’t have much to worry about. However, there are cases where your vein color could signify a bigger problem. Here’s when to get that strange vein color checked out:

  • If you’ve never had blue veins before. If a vein suddenly and rapidly turns blue, it could be a sign of blood pooling in your circulatory system or deep vein thrombosis.
  • If the vein color is changing. Seek medical help if your vein color changes from blue to a darker blue, purple, or even green as this can mean you are suffering venous insufficiency.
  • If your blue veins are accompanied by ulcers. Blue veins in your legs coupled with ulcers are a sign of vein disease.
  • If the vein hurts. If your blue vein begins to hurt, it’s best to call a doctor.

Blue Veins Are Normal—These Veins Are Dangerous

Although everyone has blue veins, very visible bulging blue veins may indicate vein disease. This is not something to take lightly as vein disease can lead to serious complications and even death. Keep an eye out for unusual veins and symptoms, such as:

  • Gnarled, raised veins
  • Swelling in legs and ankles
  • Heaviness in legs
  • Dry, hardened skin on legs
  • Cramping or aches in your thigh and calf
  • Leg pain that dissipates after walking

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms along with your blue veins, it’s time to call a medical professional as these could indicate you have vein disease. 

3 Tips for Healthy Veins

If your blue veins aren’t accompanied by any pain, discomfort, or other discoloration, chances are your veins are healthy. Keep them healthy by practicing habits that support good vein health, such as:

Daily Exercise

One of the best ways to ensure good vein health is to stay active. Exercise gets your blood flowing and can help improve your circulation, leading to healthy veins. Even something as simple as taking a daily walk can make a big impact on your vein health. 

Balanced Meals

Health starts in the kitchen. When you put nutrient-rich food in your body, those nutrients work with your body to boost your health. Try adding these foods into your diet (your veins will thank you!):

  • Leafy Greens: kale, spinach, collard greens
  • Antioxidant-rich Snacks: blueberries, strawberries, pecans, dark chocolate
  • Healthy Fats: avocados, olive oil, salmon

Avoid Smoking

Smoking and second-hand smoke are detrimental to your vein health. Studies have shown that the carbon monoxide and tar from cigarette smoke affect the ability of veins to properly carry blood throughout your body and affect the quality of your veins. This can lead to serious vascular diseases and coronary heart disease. Immediate effects of smoking include the narrowing of veins, which may lead to hardened veins in the future. 

Check on Your Vein Health for Free

The Gilvydis Vein Clinic is here for you. We know that healthy veins can lead to a better quality of life, which is why we want to help you stay on top of your vein health. 

If you suspect that you have varicose veins or spider veins, come into our clinic for a free vein screening. We’re known for our reputation in excellent vein care and leading customer service. You can rest assured that we will provide you with the best possible outcome for your veins and for you.

Request a Free Screening

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Compression socks to improve circulation in legs

Compression Therapy Improves Leg Vein Health

Treatment for varicose veins and other leg vein conditions has improved dramatically in recent years, resulting in minimally invasive procedures that offer less pain and minimal downtime.

Conservative therapy is an important part of the treatment timeline that comes before procedures such as sclerotherapy or endovenous laser ablation. Insurance companies require conservative therapy to be completed as the first stage of treatment. That means wearing prescription-strength compression stockings for an average of six to 12 weeks.

Compression stockings can help alleviate the symptoms of varicose veins. They support and stabilize the legs, improving circulation and preventing excess fluid from accumulating. This helps get blood and fluid back to the heart rather than pool in the legs and cause related issues such as pain and fatigue, redness, and swelling. Untreated vein issues can lead to further complications such as blood clots or deep vein thrombosis.

While prescription-strength compression stockings are used during treatment, over-the-counter compression socks are a great investment for everyday use to help keep your legs healthy and promote good circulation. This is especially true if your job requires long periods of either sitting or standing. Fitness enthusiasts such as runners also find benefits in wearing compression socks to aid with circulation.

Whether you’re wearing compression stockings for treatment or compression socks to be proactive and maintain good leg vein health, here are some tips to keep in mind.

  • Wear stockings/socks as advised. Prescription compression stockings are fit just for you, with specifics related to height and strength. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on everyday compression socks.
  • The fit should be tight and snug but not painful.
  • Make sure your skin is dry before putting them on. Wait long enough after a shower and after applying lotion.
  • If you experience any redness or skin irritation, your stockings/socks might not fit right. Be sure to report any unusual reactions to your doctor.
  • The compression in stockings/socks is measured in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. Mild-to-medium compression socks range from 8 mmHg to 15mmHg. Prescription-strength stockings tend to measure at least 40 mmHg.
  • Wearing compression stockings and socks during the day. They can be worn overnight, but typically there is not a need to do so, as legs are elevated during sleep (removing the gravity issue).

Our team at Gilvydis Vein Clinic is here for all your treatment questions, from screening to consultation to treatment. If you have questions about compression therapy or want to get started with that stage of treatment, contact us online or call us at 815-981-4742.

Healthy Legs without Varicose and Spider Veins

Treat yourself to healthy legs this holiday season

The holidays are a time of giving, spending time with family and friends, and preparing for a New Year.
Taking care of yourself and treating yourself to better leg vein health should also be on the to-do list this season.

It’s understandable that the busyness of the holidays means commitments such as health screenings and doctor appointments get put on the backburner. Here are a few reasons to keep them top of mind this month and heading into 2020.

Symptoms don’t need to persist

Common vein diseases include varicose veins, spider veins, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a pulmonary embolism and chronic venous insufficiency.

Vein disease is progressive and if left untreated can develop into potentially life-threatening complications such as blood clots.

Let’s take a step back, though, and talk about symptoms. You might not know you have one of these conditions, but consider these symptoms:

  • Bulging veins that are excessively visible
  • Heavy feeling in the legs
  • Calf pain and cramping
  • Discolored skin
  • Fatigue
  • Aching
  • Burning
  • Throbbing
  • Itching
  • Restlessness of the legs

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, they could be the result of leg vein issues. A simple first step is to call us to schedule a free screening or request an appointment online.

Veins issues aren’t just cosmetic

One of the most common concerns we hear is that treatment for issues such as varicose veins won’t be covered by insurance. Our team will help you eliminate insurance barriers by assisting with insurance authorization and certification.

Treatments such as endovenous laser ablation and ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy procedures for varicose veins are covered by almost all plans. We also offer procedures for cosmetic purposes that are typically not covered, though we have third-party financing options available.

As we noted, vein disease should be taken seriously and treatment works. There’s no need to be embarrassed about the appearance of varicose veins, to cover them up, or to put up with the discomfort from pain, swelling and other symptoms.

Treat yourself to healthy legs this holiday and instill confidence, eliminate downtime and improve your overall health.

woman dancing on beach showing only legs

Prioritize leg vein health in the summertime heat

The increased temperatures of summer have finally hit after a rainy, cooler spring. That warmer weather is a reminder to prioritize leg vein health, especially because your legs will likely be more exposed in shorts and swimsuits.

Conditions such as heat stroke and sunburns might be more top of mind this time of year, but intense heat can worsen the pain and discomfort associated with varicose veins.

The summer heat can intensify common varicose vein symptoms such as a burning or throbbing sensation in the legs; tired, achy or heaviness in the legs; swelling, especially as the day progresses; chronic pain similar to muscle cramps; itchiness; and skin discoloration in the areas of pain or discomfort.

If you recognize any of these symptoms, call us anytime at 815-981-4742 to request an appointment or come to one of our free vein screenings. Screening is crucial to fully understand what’s going on with your veins.

If treatment is necessary, we offer innovative, minimally invasive procedures for varicose veins that don’t require lengthy recovery time. There’s still time to get your legs summer-ready and no need to suffer the pain and frustration of bulging, unsightly veins.

In the meantime, here are some general tips that will promote good leg vein health (and help the rest of your body!) during the summer.
Remember to hydrate. This is important all year-round but especially when spending more time outside. Heat and humidity can zap your energy quickly, so have plenty of water around – whether it’s at the beach or while working outside in the garden. This can prevent the cramping associated with dehydration that can worsen varicose vein symptoms, and staying hydrated helps with overall blood flow.

Maintain a healthy diet. It’s OK to indulge in some cool treats such as ice cream, but including foods such as blueberries, avocados and beets can improve leg vein health.

Don’t forget the sunscreen. This is good advice for protecting all of your skin and, in this case, the skin and veins just beneath the skin. Avoid direct sun exposure during midday and grab a coverup if you plan to be outside for a long period of time.

Exercise – and relax. It’s usually easier to stay active during the summer, so make sure to maintain movement and exercise. Elevate your legs when you’re relaxing to promote better circulation in them. Remember to wear comfortable shoes during extended periods of summer activity – aka swap the flip-flops for sneakers or supportive sandals when you can.

With special attention to some of these steps, you’ll have more fun in the summertime and less worry about your legs. Don’t let varicose veins make you keep those shorts and swimsuits packed away. Call us today to request an appointment online.

Image Credit: Getty/Margaryta Basarab