Better Me

Say Goodbye to Visible Leg Veins: 4 Solutions That May Help

Are you tired of feeling self-conscious about those stubborn veins crisscrossing across your legs and thighs? Perhaps it’s more than just a cosmetic concern. Maybe they are causing you some pain and discomfort, too.

Whether you’re embarrassed to show your legs or dealing with physical discomfort, visible leg veins can impact your confidence and quality of life. Taking care of your legs means more than just looking good; it’s also about feeling good. 

Todd Bruce, PA-C, a cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgery specialist, helps us understand more about visible leg veins, ways to treat them and possibly even prevent new ones from showing up in the future.  

Why do these veins look different than other veins?

Those pale greenish-blue veins you see in your hands, arms and legs are very common and usually not a cause for concern. But what about those purple-reddish veins that create intricate webs and branches on your skin?  These may be spider veins, varicose veins or reticular veins.

“Spider veins are small, web-like veins that appear close to the skin’s surface,” Bruce said. These veins can be red, purple or blue in color and are common on your legs and sometimes face.

Varicose veins are larger, swollen veins that also usually appear blue or purple in color. They may bulge or twist and are often found on the legs and feet. Varicose veins can cause discomfort, pain, itching and aching sensations, especially after you stand or sit for a long period.

“Reticular veins are bigger and deeper than spider veins but smaller than varicose,” Bruce said. “They are found on the legs, often the calves.” Reticular veins are typically bluish green in color and spread like a mesh, covering a wider area on the skin.

What causes visible leg veins?

Varicose, spider and reticular veins can be related to blood flow issues. They are often related to problems in the veins’ ability to efficiently return blood back to the heart, a condition called chronic venous insufficiency. 

When the valves in these veins weaken, some blood flows backward and pools in the veins. This extra blood can put pressure on the vein walls, causing noticeable veins to appear but also more serious problems.

“If left untreated, venous insufficiency can cause leg swelling, which in turn can cause venous ulcerations and lead to other serious health conditions,” Bruce said. “If your veins are painful or you have leg swelling, you should see your health care provider.”

However, other factors can also increase your risk of developing these types of veins, including family history, age and your level of physical activity.

“They tend to have a genetic component but can also be caused by pregnancy, injury to an area of the leg and if you sit or stand for long periods,” Bruce said. 

Being overweight, not exercising enough or having a history of blood clots can also increase your risk of developing different types of visible leg veins.

How can I get rid of my visible leg veins?

Massage, special creams and lotions and self-tanning solutions may give you some temporary relief, but they aren’t going to make your veins go away. You need a more permanent solution.

In the last few decades, vein treatment has evolved a lot – away from vein removal surgery (vein stripping) to many minimally invasive treatments. With these new approaches, you can safely receive vein care in an outpatient setting and with little downtime. 

Here are three of the latest treatments used today:

  • Surface laser treatments: This cosmetic treatment is good for very small veins. A trained specialist heats the vein using a surface laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment, causing it to contract and scar over.

    If needles aren’t your thing, this may be a good option. But it may take a few sessions to see visible results. 
  • Sclerotherapy: This minimally-invasive procedure is one of the most popular options for spider and small varicose veins. A trained specialist uses a painless foamy detergent or saline injection (using a very fine needle) to collapse the troubled vein or veins so they can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream.

    It can take roughly one to two months for spider veins to disappear and three to four months for varicose veins. 
  • Laser ablation: For large varicose veins, a laser procedure like endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) may be used to heat the vein and collapse it. EVLT uses a laser fiber, while RFA uses a catheter and is used to treat venous insufficiency.

    With both procedures, you usually see results in as little as a few weeks.  

Can I prevent new veins from forming?

While some factors for visible leg veins (like genetics and age) are beyond your control, there are steps you can take to reduce your risk and possibly prevent them from developing.

Wear compression stockings: Even if you don’t have visible leg veins, wearing compression stockings or socks can help prevent them from developing by improving blood flow and reducing pressure on the veins. 

“Stockings can help with leg swelling and help keep veins from being painful by helping to support them, especially if you stand or sit for long periods,” Bruce noted.

Stay active: Regular exercise, especially activities that engage the leg muscles, like walking, cycling and swimming, can help improve circulation and keep veins healthy. 

Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can put extra pressure on your veins, increasing the likelihood of developing visible leg veins. Maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Avoid prolonged sitting or standing: If your job requires long periods of sitting or standing, try to take breaks to stretch and move around. Elevating your legs when sitting can also reduce pressure on the veins. 

Avoid tight clothing: Tight clothing around your waist and legs can restrict blood flow and increase your risk for leg veins. Choose loose-fitting clothing whenever possible.

Protect your skin: Avoid excessive sun exposure, as UV rays can weaken the skin and contribute to the development of visible leg veins. If you will be in the sun, be sure to wear sunscreen and protective clothing


Don’t let visible leg veins keep you from feeling comfortable and confident in your skin. Whether you’re dealing with varicose, spider or reticular veins, there are treatment options available to help improve the appearance of your legs and help with discomfort. 

If you’re struggling with visible leg veins, talk to a vein specialist or a Banner Health specialist to explore your best treatment plan. 

Take our free Symptoms Profiler Health Risk Assessment to learn more about your vascular health.

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