Veins are blood vessels designed to carry blood from the tissues back to the heart. They are less muscular than arteries and are closer to the skin. The veins you see through the skin’s surface are superficial veins. They look pronounced on pale skin, muscular forms and when enlarged on legs.
Anatomy: The function of veins
Veins, in general, carry deoxygenated blood from across the body to the heart, with exceptions of pulmonary and umbilical veins. The latter two types carry oxygenated blood to the heart. Arteries, in contrast, carry blood away from the heart.
There are millions of veins in the body. They stretch for thousands of miles across your body. They appear blue in color, and you can see them through the skin on your arms, legs and chest.
Superficial veins are close to the surface of the skin, while deep veins are farther away from the surface. For the legs, the deep veins move most of the blood. Superficial ones only transport a small percentage of blood to the heart from your legs.
Shade of skin and weight
Translucent skin makes the veins appear more clearly through the skin than a darker skin tone. Fair-skinned people, such as redheads, are likely able to see their veins easily through their skin. If you are thin, you can also see the veins effortlessly, as there is little fat over the blood vessels.
Weight lifting and veins
Lifting weights can intensify the look of veins under your skin. When holding weights, you put pressure on your body, causing your veins to bulge and look rigid. Over time, exercise can change the appearance of your veins under your skin.
While weight lifting does not change the actual veins, the muscle around them does alter. The muscles enlarge and harden as you exercise; the ridge walls make veins look more pronounced even when not doing strenuous activity.
When veins in your legs enlarge, doctors call them varicose veins. The enlargement makes them easy to see through your skin. Varicose veins develop when the valves in your legs no longer work to full capacity. They cannot sufficiently pump blood to the heart using your calf muscles.
Varicose veins are painful when you stand, due to the pressure of your body’s weight on your legs. There are surgical and nonsurgical treatments to alleviate the discomfort. Nonsurgical methods include elastic stockings and exercise. Vein stripping is a surgery to remove the painful veins. Abstraction of superficial veins takes priority over deep ones because they transport a smaller percentage of blood.
The veins you see through your skin are superficial veins. They are easy to see when you are pale, thin or have a muscular frame. When varicose veins develop in your legs, the veins become more pronounced. If you are not sure why your veins look large or have related questions, see your doctor to help ensure you stay healthy.