are my veins normal?
Veins are funny things, eh? Marvellous blood carriers, rarely thought about, until they look a bit... well, weird. Sometimes they’re darker than usual after exercise, other times they get a little lumpy, but when are they actually a cause for concern? We asked Philip Coleridge Smith, a vascular surgeon at the British Vein Institute, to find out...
Is there something wrong if my veins look more pronounced after exercise?
“It is normal for superficial veins to become more prominent when you get hot, such as after exercise or after a hot bath,” says Philip. “Blood is directed to the surface veins when you get hot to allow you to cool down.”
What if my veins look darker when I'm not active?
“It is OK for veins to look darker when you are not active. The blood is often darker when you are sitting still and can easily be seen through the skin in some people.”
I've noticed some lumpy veins on my legs – what are these?
“Most surface veins have small regular bulges where the venous valves are located. These occur every few centimetres and are part of the normal workings of the circulation. Varicose veins are diagnosed when the veins become lumpy and irregular or develop worm-like wiggles. I treat very few teenagers for varicose veins. Some people develop them in their 20s, but the average age of patients in my clinic is 50-55 years.”
What are the best ways to maintain good vein health?
“I suggest to my patients that they should eat healthy food with plenty of vegetables and fish. Avoid fatty food and those with lots of sugar or other carbohydrates. I also suggest that they select their parents more carefully in future (!) – varicose veins are a strongly inherited condition.”