Around 30% of the UK population will develop varicose veins in their lifetime.
And while the majority of them appear on the lower legs, those pesky little veins can pop up just about anywhere on the body.
Internationally renowned vascular specialist Professor Mark Whiteley of The Whiteley Clinic lifts the lid on the undesirable areas where varicose veins can develop – and why…
Veins on the hands and arms
“These veins are less common, and usually develop with age and loss of body fat – particularly in those who work out a lot,” explains Mark.
“Fortunately, these veins are pretty harmless and are mainly a cosmetic problem. Very rarely they can cause bruising or can clot, but in most cases they just make the hands look old and the arms look less attractive.”
Veins around the eyes
Although everyone has veins around the eyes, temples and forehead, Mark explains why for some people, they’re more prominent:
“In some people, the veins are clearly visible. This is generally because the veins are nearer to the surface of the skin, the surrounding subcutaneous fat is reduced or the veins are more dilated than normal.
“For these patients, bulging or prominent green veins around the eyes or on the temples can be quite disfiguring and cause extreme embarrassment, particularly when hot or flustered.”
Red veins on the face
“Veins which often cause a lot of distress for patients are those that appear on the face,” says Mark.
“These veins – frequently referred to as thread veins or ‘broken capillaries’ – are tiny blood vessels which run close to the surface of the skin and look like fine, red or purple, wiggly lines. Although small and usually not a medical problem, a lot of people choose to have these veins removed for cosmetic reasons.
“Unlike the thread veins found on the legs – which are due to gravity – the thread veins on the face can be treated with electrolysis, intense pulsed light or laser therapy, depending on the size and distribution of the veins.”
Veins on the cleavage and chest
“Obvious or bulging blue or green veins on the breasts, or in the cleavage between the breasts, can be very upsetting and can make any woman very self-conscious,” notes Mark.
“These veins can develop for a variety of reasons, but are particularly prominent in patients after implant surgery.”
Veins on the bottom
“The most undesirable area for varicose veins to occur is probably the interior or exterior of the anus – more commonly known as haemorrhoids or piles.
“Although this area of the body is not generally associated with veins, approximately 50 per cent of the UK population are estimated to suffer from haemorrhoids during their lifetime.
“For the majority of people, these veins don’t cause any problems – but for some people they can be painful and cause bleeding.”
As the NHS points out on its website, most varicose veins don't require any treatment – and it’s unlikely you’ll receive treatment on the NHS for cosmetic reasons. But don’t hesitate to see a specialist or GP if you’re concerned about your veins.