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Bulging Veins: Causes and Symptoms

Veins that become perceptible by both sight and touch have numerous possible causes, ranging from thrombophlebitis to pregnancy. But whatever the cause, the result is that the valves of the veins fail to keep the blood flowing correctly. Instead, blood accumulates in the veins, causing them to enlarge.

Though visually disturbing and sometimes painful, bulging veins are often relatively harmless.


During pregnancy, less blood flows from the legs to the pelvis as a result of the increased pressure on the pelvic veins. Changing hormones also play a role in the development of bulging varicose veins. This condition often disappears on its own after you give birth.

Advancing age

As you age, your veins become weaker and begin to lose their elasticity. Aging veins are not as efficient at returning the blood back to the heart as they once were. Because of this, small amounts of blood pool in the veins, causing them to bulge.

Lack of exercise

Regular exercise supports proper blood circulation, and promotes healthy veins. Lack of exercise can lead to diminished circulation as well as weight gain.

Superficial thrombophlebitis

Thrombophlebitis occurs when a clot forms in the veins just below the skin’s surface, causing inflammation of the vein. The vein bulges and may feel rope-like. Superficial thrombophlebitis is rarely life-threatening. Treatment often involves heat therapy, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, and elevation of the extremity.

Unfortunately, bulging veins can also indicate much more serious health conditions such as infections, tumors or blood clots that can travel through the blood to the heart, lungs or brain. It is especially important that you pay attention to symptoms such as the formation of ulcers, sudden swelling, or prolonged discomfort. Please seek medical care if you notice any of these symptoms.

However, even if you don’t experience these more severe symptoms, it can be a good idea to seek medical help. Your doctor should be able to discern the cause of your bulging veins and recommend appropriate treatment.


Most cases of bulging veins can be treated with minimally invasive approaches such as sclerotherapy, laser surgeries, and catheter-assisted procedures. These procedures are all geared at compromising the walls of the vein, causing the vein to seal and disappear.

Wearing compression stockings or support hose and taking breaks during long periods of standing and sitting are two simple ways to decrease your risk of developing bulging veins. During ambulatory phlebectomy, the problem vein is surgically removed. Read more about vascular surgery to treat bulging veins.

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