Bulging veins are often of cosmetic concern wherever they appear on the body. Unlike swollen leg veins (varicose veins), bulging arm veins do not usually signal a medical condition and are simply a natural result of ageing and genetics. However if coupled with pain or swelling the bulging vein cause may be a medical condition.
Whether the treatment required is medical or cosmetic, we offer a range of fast, effective, non-surgical bulging vein treatments in our Auckland vein clinic.
Bulging vein causes differ for the arms and legs. Below we discuss bulging vein causes for the arms and hands. If you would like more information on bulging veins in the legs, please visit our varicose veins web page.
Age: As we age our skin becomes thinner and loses its forgiving elasticity. This can result in bulging arm veins and bulging hand veins that were previously less visible.
Genetics: Chances are if your family has bulging arm veins or bulging hand veins, you could too.
Low body fat: While this is usually an indication of good health, low body fat can make veins appear more prominent.
Exercise: When we exercise our blood pressure increases, delivering extra blood flow to the hands and feet. This makes the veins work overtime causing them to dilate in order to manage the extra load. Additionally, frequent lifting of heavy objects can place extra strain on the veins causing them to bulge and become more visible.
Hot weather: In hot weather, our veins enlarge to help the body regulate heat and cool down. This is why you may have noticed your swollen arm veins are more pronounced in summer and less visible in winter.
Superficial thrombophlebitis: This is the medical term for a blood clot in the superficial veins. As well as having swollen arm veins, other symptoms of a superficial blood clot include the affected vein feeling firm, tender and hot. This is a medical condition that requires attention.
Deep vein thrombosis: DVT is a blood clot in the deep veins of the arm. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical treatment. If a clot is present it restricts blood flow from the hand back up the arm causing blood to pool in the hand and for it to become swollen and painful with swollen hand veins. These symptoms tend to persist until they are treated.
Bulging vein symptoms are usually entirely aesthetic. The swollen hand veins or arm veins protrude making them raised and highly visible within the skin.
If additional symptoms are present in the hands or arms such as swelling, pain, or the vein feeling tender and hot, these bulging vein symptoms could indicate a blood clot and immediate medical attention should be sought.
The bulging vein treatments we recommend differ depending on the bulging vein cause.
If the cause is non-medical we would recommend using dermal fillers to disguise the swollen veins.
Dermal filler: Dermal fillers are a gel-like liquid that is injected into the skin to lift, sculpt and enhance areas of concern. They are commonly used in cosmetic medicine to lift sagging skin and smooth wrinkles.
When used as a swollen vein treatment they are injected into the skin around the veins to build up the surrounding tissue and disguise the prominent veins (as seen in the before and after photo). The result is that the veins no longer appear to be swollen and raised within the skin.
This is a safe and effective technique that can be done in under an hour and requires no downtime from work or normal activities.
If the swollen vein cause is medical, the below treatments would be recommended for either superficial or deep vein clot.
Treatment of phlebitis (superficial blood clot): Usually we will ensure there is no deep vein involvement of the clot. If the clot is confined to the surface veins we would prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and compression to the hand or arms veins. If the superficial clot is more extensive, we may prescribe anticoagulant (blood thinning medicine) to reduce the chance of a more serious deep vein clot forming.
Treatment of deep vein arm clot: This will require anticoagulant (blood thinning) medication and a follow-up ultrasound to ensure it is resolving. We would also check for underlying Paget-Schroetter syndrome, which can predispose to deep vein arm clots.
Additional more invasive treatments are available though these are not recommended or performed by Palm Clinic.
Ambulatory phlebectomy: This is a surgical procedure that removes the dilated vein using local anaesthetic and sutures.
Vein stripping and ligation: This is a more involved surgical procedure that involves a general anaesthetic, tying the vein off and cutting it out. We don’t advocate for this treatment for bulging arm veins or hand veins as it’s too risky and invasive for what is a cosmetic procedure.
Additionally, the below treatments are highly effective for treating swollen veins in the legs (varicose veins) but we would not recommend them for bulging hand veins or arm veins.
Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy: UGS is the gold standard treatment for varicose veins as it is fast, safe and requires no time away from work. We don’t advocate its use in the arms due to the risk of a deep vein clot in the arm. UGS involves injection of a medicine into the veins causing them to close and become absorbed by the body until they disappear.
Endovenous ablation therapy: EVLA can be done using laser therapy or radiofrequency ablation therapy. Like UGS this procedure is offered at Palm Clinic for the treatment of varicose veins but it is considered too risky (when there are less-invasive alternatives) for treatment of arm or hand veins.
Botox® is a prescription medicine for the treatment of frown lines, horizontal forehead lines and crow’s feet round the eyes. Botox® has risks and benefits. Ask your doctor if Botox® is right for you. If you have side effects, see your doctor. You will need to pay for Botox® and clinic fees will apply. For details on precautions & side effects consult your healthcare professional or the Consumer Medicine Information (CMI) at www.medsafe.govt.nz. Botox® treatment lasts about 4 months and further courses of treatment may be necessary. Should only be administered by trained medical professionals.(Contains botulinum toxin A 50,100 & 200 units). Allergan (NZ) Limited, Auckland.
Juvederm Ultra™ & Juvederm Ultra Plus™ are medical devices Class III for the filling of medium size and deep facial wrinkles by injection into the skin and for creating definition and volume in the lips. Contains 24mg/mL. cross-linked hyaluronic acid. Juvederm has risks and benefits. Cautions: Use in an area that has been treated with another dermal filler, people with autoimmune disease, or who are pregnant, breastfeeding, under 18 years of age or have an increased susceptibility to keloid formation and hypertrophic scarring. People on blood thinning medicines. Possible side effects: injection site inflammatory reactions (redness/swelling, itching/pain on pressure) induration or nodules; discolouration; weak filling effect. If you have side effects or concerns speak to your doctor. Product and treatment costs will apply. Note: Juvederm treatment lasts about 12-24 months. For product information check with your doctor or product information at Allergan (NZ) Limited, Auckland.
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Please note that individual results may vary from patient to patient, and the information provided on our website is only a guidance to the possible results.