back of legs showing spider veins

How to Tell If Bulging Veins Are Healthy or Troublesome

Bulging veins are common among both men and women. These bulges don’t typically display symptoms that would indicate any serious medical problems, but if not treated, they can lead to life-threatening conditions and require medical treatment. Approximately 23% percent of U.S. adults suffer from bulging veins, also known as varicose veins, which can arise for multiple reasons.

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Why Do Your Veins Bulge?

A malfunctioning valve in the veins causes them to project outward. The valve is like a one-way flap that helps regulate the flow of blood through the veins. When it doesn’t work properly, it prevents the blood from flowing upward. Instead, the blood flows backward which leads to the veins becoming enlarged. Other common causes include:

  • Obstruction of blood flow
  • Obesity
  • Lack of movement
  • Aging
  • Pregnancy
  • Thrombophlebitis (swelling and inflammation)

When Are Bulging Veins Normal?

In many cases, it is normal to see protruding veins under certain circumstances. They often don’t indicate an underlying health problem or confirm a critical medical issue. You can expect veins to bulge under the following conditions:

  • Thin skin due to aging
  • Low body fat
  • Increased blood pressure due to intense physical activity


Varicose veins are particularly common among pregnant women. Although the ailment is bothersome, it is not life-threatening. Typical symptoms include:

  • Itching
  • Pain
  • Discomfort
  • Heavy feeling in the affected area
  • Hardening of veins


These symptoms don’t usually get worse. Even though varicose veins are irritating and unsightly, they can go away or improve after the baby is born within three to four months. However, some women report that their varicose veins, caused by pregnancy, never went away. If a pregnant woman has poor circulation and varicose veins, the condition can progress over time.

When Are Varicose Veins Unhealthy?

There is substantial research that varicose veins share a link to blood clots and can lead to the following conditions:

  • Pulmonary Embolism – PE occurs when a blood clot travels to the lungs. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath and chest pain.
  • Superficial Vein Thrombosis – SVT is a type of blood clot that forms right below the skin’s surface. Symptoms include limb pain, skin warmth around the vein and red, inflamed skin along the vein.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis – DVT refers to blood clots that develop deep in the veins throughout your body. In some cases, there are no symptoms. In other instances, the disorder causes swelling and leg pain.

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When Do You Need Medical Care?

Generally speaking, varicose veins are a harmless condition. You may not experience symptoms or have an underlying health problem. However, there are instances where bulging veins cause symptoms that often require attention from healthcare professionals. As a result, adults should not turn a blind eye to these physical issues:

  • Leg pain
  • Leg swelling
  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Discoloration
  • Skin ulceration

Get Rid of Protruding Veins

There is ongoing research exploring the connection between bulging veins and blood clots. There are also indications that if these conditions go untreated, it could lead to life-threatening conditions such a deep vein thrombosis, superficial vein thrombosis, and pulmonary embolism.

If you experience shortness of breath, chest pain or swollen legs, it is recommended that you seek medical attention. You can also opt for a non-invasive surgical intervention that can treat unsightly, painful leg vein problems. Our team of specialists can treat vein disease in Sycamore and Geneva. Contact us today at Gilvydis Vein Clinic and schedule a free screening by filling out our online form or call (815) 981-4742.

Image Credit: Getty/anurakpong