Why are veins blue while the blood is red? They appear blue because blue and red light has to enter the skin and illuminate the veins. These lights penetrate the skin with varied degrees of success and the blue light tends to be reflected back to our eyes. If you are asking why veins are blue, they are naturally designed to appear this way.
How circulation works
The heart pumps blood to the lungs where oxygen is replenished and is then pumped out to the rest of the body via the arteries. At this point, the blood is always bright red as oxygen attaches itself to the hemoglobin in the red blood cells. And as it flows through the blood capillaries, oxygen enters various body tissues and the red blood cells become pale. By the end of this cycle, the blood’s level of oxygen is exhausted and appears dark red when observed under the microscope.
It therefore has to flow through the veins to the heart where the process is repeated. Normally, some oxygen molecules don’t enter the red blood cell in just one cycle and this is what can keep a person who has stopped breathing alive for a few minutes. If blood is not being fully oxygenated in the lungs, the blood in the veins will appear darker and more noticeable. This can cause other symptoms such as heaviness in the legs, fatigue, and shortness of breath and so on.
So, if your blood is not receiving enough oxygen from the lungs or if it is not effectively taken back to the heart and lungs for oxygenation, this could be the reason why your veins are blue. Some processes may make the blue color clearer and easily detectable by bringing them closer to the skin surface:
- The usual aging process makes the skin thinner and due to this, veins comes closer to the skin surface. So their blue color becomes more apparent.
- Excessive weight loss makes the skin appear thinner than previously and so the blue veins become easier to see.
- Varicose veins and spider veins
- Body building makes the person’s veins bulge and come closer to the skin surface.
Why are veins blue? – Venous disease
If you have a venous disease, chances are that your veins are appearing more bluish than normal. They have probably become larger and swollen, and you are being tempted to see a NYC vein doctor soon. In the USA, about fifty to fifty-five percent of females and forty to forty-five percent of males develop a certain vein problem in their life span. Additionally, varicose veins and spider veins are mostly known to affect people who are fifty years and above. In the U.S, vein disease is so serious that it is now a cause of disability that keeps people off work.
There are a number of reasons why venous disease develops and the only way to know why you have is to get examined by a qualified vein doctor. This disease leads to the formation of varicose veins and spider veins and if ignored, it could provoke serious complications. To help you understand the difference between the two, each will be discussed next.
Varicose veins – What are these?
This is a vein problem that occurs when veins enlarge, swell, twist and hold oxygen-depleted blood. If you don’t know why your veins are bluer, varicose veins (varicosities or varices) development is one reason why. As they are puffy veins, they appear to be too close to the skin surface and are easily detectable. So their blue color is more perceptible than that of normal veins. Varicose veins tend to affect the legs the most, although they can also form in the buttocks, vulva and arms.
Sometimes varicose veins are asymptomatic, meaning that they cause no symptom and there is no pressure to see a NYC vein doctor. Other times they cause mild to moderate pain or throbbing discomfort. If left untreated, varices can lead to deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), leg venous ulcers, venous eczema, and vein bleeding and related issues.
Spider veins – What are these?
Sometimes the terms varicose veins and spider veins are interchanged, but there is a difference. Spider veins are a type of varicose veins that are so small and comparable to blood capillaries. Also called thread veins, spider veins tend to form in clusters and are so superficial. They are dilated vessels that may appear blue or red and form the shape of a spider web or a tree branch. So these are another reason why veins are blue. While these are mostly seen on the thighs, behind the knees, on the calves and feet, they can also appear on the face.
Sometimes they are referred to as sunburst veins because of developing in areas that are usually exposed to the sun. These veins cause a lot of itching during summer months and they are also a leading cause of fatigue, heaviness in the legs, night leg cramps and pain. Varicose veins and spider veins can appear together and increase your level of discomfort. In such a case, the right action to take is to call a reliable NYC vein doctor.
What is the cause of varicose veins and spider veins?
The main cause of trunk varicose veins is vein disease. These are the large and swollen varicose veins and they develop as a side effect of refluxing venous blood. What this means is that when the valves in the veins become weak or impaired, they cause leakage. In other words, some of the deoxygenated blood doesn’t make it back to the heart and lungs at all. Instead, it pools in the leg veins and this is referred to as the refluxing problem.
As more and more blood gathers inside the veins, the pressure mounts and causes the vein walls to swell and enlarge and seeing a NYC vein doctor is so crucial at this point. This is when varicose veins appear. There is no specific known cause of spider veins, but they are believed to be caused by trauma to the vein, sun exposure and poor blood circulation in legs that leads to pooling. When blood collects in veins, that’s when a venous reflux disease or venous insufficiency begins. Some factors make people vulnerable to varicose veins and spider veins.
These include pregnancy, aging, menopause, leg strain due to prolonged sitting or standing, pressure on the pelvic area, obesity, genetics, congenital valve conditions and birth control pills. In addition, having a history of DVT (deep vein thrombosis or blood clots) can make you prone to varicose veins and spider veins. For that reason, try to control some of the avoidable factors: obesity, leg strain, tight clothes around the pelvic area and inactivity and so on.
How to know you have vein disease
It is as easy as observing your leg skin. Are you asking yourself why your leg veins are bluer or more prominent than before? Is so, it is possible that your skin has thinned or you have developed varicose veins. If these are accompanied by other symptoms, go see a NYC vein doctor the soonest possible. They will be able to explain to why your veins are blue and why they have become bluer than before. Moreover, they will ask you about the symptoms you are having:
- An ache that worsens when you spend hours sitting down or standing up and lessens when you elevate your leg
- Swelling around your ankles
- Heaviness in the legs or restless leg syndrome
- Throbbing or cramping pain
- Skin staining and the skin might darken in severe cases.
Varicose veins and spider veins should be treated if they are causing uncomfortable symptoms. Furthermore, they may make some people uncomfortable and should be removed to restore confidence. Spider veins can disappear without treatment, especially if you walk every day. Once they start to fade, itching and burning sensation will disappear as the problem is rarely caused by a venous reflux disease. If spider veins are caused by venous insufficiency, there is likely to be symptoms that people who have larger trunk varicose veins experience.
All in all, have them removed by the top NYC vein doctor if you hate the way they alter your legs appearance. As for varicose veins, the best thing to do is to treat them early. So stop wondering why veins are blue or why their bluish tone has increased. Call a vein doctor like Dr. Namrata Khimani now and arrange your first meeting. These should be treated the soonest possible to avoid severe complications later on. Varicose veins tend to worsen over time, leading to the development of venous ulcers and venous eczema.
Diagnosis entails observation when you are standing up or sitting down with your legs dangling. That’s when varicose veins become more visible and obvious. To confirm their result, a NYC vein doctor will often do a venous ultrasound Duplex test that shows the current condition of the internal structures of veins. After this is confirmed, the next thing is to start treating your varicose veins and spider veins.
How treatment is given
So, why are veins blue and is there anything a doctor can do? If it is confirmed that your veins are bluer because they have become varicose veins, you will be offered various treatment options. Obviously, modern vein doctors are offering minimally invasive treatments first. The common options include the following:
- Radio frequency ablation or RFA – This is the most effective kind of treatment when one has stubborn trunk varicose veins. It is less invasive, safe, convenient and effective. According to some studies, RFA may cause lower rates of pain, mild bruising and fewer complications compared to other treatment methods. During this process, the select NYC vein doctor will insert a tiny catheter into the damaged vein via a small cut. Then deliver heat to the vein where it will cause the collagen in its walls to contract. So the walls will collapse and seal forever. Then, blood will find another healthier route to flow through and the scarred vein will get absorbed into the surrounding body tissue over time.
- Endovenous laser ablation – EVLA is also called laser treatment and it is a safe and proven technique for treating varicose veins and spider veins. Also an outpatient minimally invasive procedure, EVLA is effective if it is used on medium-sized varicose veins. It offers a quick recovery time and less discomfort. A tiny optic fiber is inserted directly into the damaged vein and laser light is used to heat up and collapse the vein. Done under the guidance of ultrasound, EVLA is the safest method available. It is not effective when used to treat large varicose veins.
- Sclerotherapy –Once you are offered this treatment by the best NYC vein doctor, you will no longer feel uncomfortable. This technique is minimally invasive and involves injections with certain chemicals that cause vein walls to collapse and close. Sessions take less than half of an hour and no hospitalization is needed. Unlike RFA and EVLA, no anesthesia shots are given to prevent the pain. So you might feel the needle pricks and if your nerves are sensitive, you might feel some pain. Once the sclerosing chemical is deposited into the varicose veins you can go back to your usual work. The chemical will harden and dry up the damaged veins and blood will then locate healthier veins to travel through. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy is likely to be the method that your NYC vein doctor will choose and it is so effective when larger veins are involved.
Apart from the above-mentioned techniques, your NYC vein doctor might offer alternatives. That is if these techniques do not offer the desired results. One of the alternatives is ambulatory phlebectomy and it is only applied when veins are too close to the skin surface. During ambulatory phlebectomy, veins are removed via small incisions or needle pricks. It requires local anesthesia and if done unsafely, it could lead to leg swelling, nerve damage and gathering of blood outside of a blood vessel (hematoma).
Another technique that your NYC vein doctor could offer is vein stripping and ligation surgery. In this case, varicose veins are removed through surgery and the procedure is the most invasive. It cannot be used as a long-term way to treat varicose veins and spider veins because these are known to recur and patients take longer to recover. It causes scarring and repeated surgeries are simply not sensible.