Do Veiny Legs Mean I Have Varicose Veins?

Written By Center for Vein Restoration
Varicose veins legs

Just because veins are visible on your legs doesn’t necessarily mean they are varicose veins. Learn how to determine if you have vein disease.

Visible blue and purple veins are the most common signs of varicose veins. Yet healthy leg veins may become more noticeable for reasons other than varicose veins.

Varicose veins develop when the valves in your leg veins weaken. The valves open and close to push deoxygenated blood upward to the heart. But when the valves lose strength, they can no longer effectively pump blood to the heart. Instead, blood backflows and pools within the vein, forcing it to pop out from under the skin’s surface and forming a visible varicose vein. However, veiny legs can be attributed to other causes. Here’s how to tell the difference.

Why veiny legs aren’t necessarily varicose veins

Veiny legs don’t necessarily mean your vein valves are malfunctioning. Instead, your veins may pop out and become recognizable for these four reasons:

Your exercise routine. You may notice your veins swell during the workout if you lift weights. As the arteries pump more blood to strengthen the muscles, your veins need to enlarge to contain that extra blood. Further, as blood plasma seeps into the muscle tissue, causing it to expand, the veins move close to the skin’s surface and become visible.

You're (literally) thin-skinned. Some people have thinner skin, which makes the veins on their legs, feet, and hands stand out more. Less body fat also makes veins appear more visible.

Your veins heat up. Hot weather or soaking in hot water can dilate the veins due to increased blood flow. In response, the veins widen to accommodate the extra blood.

You sit/stand all day. When you sit or stand for prolonged periods, such as for work or on a long plane ride, blood stagnates, which causes swollen, visible leg veins.

So when do veiny legs indicate varicose veins?

Visibly swollen veins might actually be varicose veins. Signs you may have varicose veins include:

You’re experiencing symptoms. Varicose veins are often accompanied by pain, cramping, throbbing, itching, and a feeling of heaviness in the legs. If those symptoms persist or worsen, you likely have varicose veins.

You have risk factors for varicose veins. Varicose veins run in families. So if a close relative had the condition, you have a greater chance of coming down with varicose veins one day. Furthermore, obesity and a sedentary lifestyle can increase your odds of developing varicose veins. Women tend to get varicose veins more than men, too.

You’re getting older. As you age, your vein valves naturally weaken. Weak valves will eventually lead to varicose veins.

You notice early signs of varicose veins. Swollen, twisting veins on the legs may not be the first sign of varicose veins. As the circulation in the leg veins slowly breaks down, you may notice your feet swelling more than usual, changes in skin texture, and achy legs after a workout. All are red flags for potentially developing varicose veins sometime down the road.

See a vein specialist if these symptoms persist or you believe you have risk factors for varicose veins. A vascular doctor can perform an ultrasound exam to determine if your veiny legs are actually varicose veins. Then, you can begin treatment to relieve you of any painful symptoms.

Visit your vein care centers in Texas

Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) operates two full-service vein-care facilities in Austin. Both offices are led by Aditya Gupta, MD, RPVI, DABVLM, an experienced vein physician who holds board certification in Internal Medicine and Venous and Lymphatic Medicine.

Dr. Gupta uses the latest technology to diagnose varicose veins. He then prescribes a treatment plan based on your individual needs. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Gupta, visit or call 240-965-3915.

11111 Research Boulevard

Suite 400

Austin, Texas 78759

7900 Farm to Market Road 1826

Building 1, Suite 170

Austin, TX 78737

Find CVR Near You