Medical and cosmetic science has devised many tricks to make our skin look smoother, our complexion brighter and even to “fix” sagging parts of the body, all of which give a more youthful appearance. But bulging veins in the hands are one of the harder-to-hide signs of aging. If you have raised or painful veins in your hands, you may wonder if there's cause for a medical concern, and how to remove visible veins on hands for smoother, younger looking hands.
Causes of raised veins on hands
Most enlarged or bulging hand vein causes are benign, while others are more serious. Causes include:
Low body fat: Too little body fat means there's not enough fat to diminish the appearance of veins. You might be skinny naturally, or from exercise and diet. Or maybe you lift weights. “Vascularity,” as it’s known in bodybuilding circles, means that you have lost enough fat under the skin that the veins (and muscles) are highly visible.
Age and genetics: As you age, your skin becomes thinner and you lose collagen, thus the veins in your hands may become more visible. Skin pigmentation, body fat distribution, or other genetic factors might also make your veins more noticeable.
Hot weather: Sometimes the cause is as simple as high temperatures making it harder for your veins to work efficiently.
Phlebitis. Trauma, infection or an autoimmune disease may inflame your veins.
Vascular disease. Malfunctions in your blood and lymph vessels can obstruct blood flow and cause deep vein thrombosis or peripheral vascular disease. If this happens in your hand or arm, swelling and compressing around blood and lymph vessels could cause raised veins in your hands.
“Hand veins will change in size throughout the day depending on location (above or below the heart), levels of hydration, genetics, and loss of muscle tone with aging,” says Dr. John Landi of the Vanish Vein and Laser Center. “Most of the time bulging hand veins are normal variants. If concerned, then you should see a vein specialist.”
Cosmetic hand vein treatment
The first step in vein hand treatment is a diagnosis. In case of a serious medical issue, your doctor will recommend a specific course of action.
If the issue is cosmetic, you can live with your bulging hand veins or choose to have visible veins in your hand removed. “We do remove veins off the back of the hand for cosmetic reasons in both men and women,” says Dr. Norman Bein of Vein Specialties of St. Louis. “Many people feel large veins on the hands are very aging so it is a self-esteem issue.”
Popular and effective hand vein treatments include Sclerotherapy, a procedure in which your doctor injects a chemical solution into the veins, causing the vein to scar and close up, reducing their appearance, and endovenous laser ablation, in which amplified radio or light waves close up smaller veins.
Vein specialists are the physicians of choice for both procedures.
What is hand rejuvenation?
The term “hand rejuvenation” covers various symptoms and several treatments. In addition to bulging hand veins, signs of aging hands include sunspots and loss of volumes. Treatment includes several mentioned above—laser therapy and sclerotherapy—and also chemical peels, microdermabrasion, intense pulsed light, and injectable fillers. Injecting fillers into your hands can stimulate the production of collagen and plump up your skin. This youthful, natural looking enhancement is another way to reduce the appearance of prominent veins and lasts up to a year in most patients.
What about ropey veins in arms?
Many people are also troubled by bulging arm veins. The causes are usually similar to those of swollen hand veins. Some treatments are possible, but you should proceed with caution. As Dr. Thomas Wright of the Laser Vein Center puts it, “You need the veins on your arms for medical reasons and they should not generally be removed.”
Dr. Landi recommends a venous evaluation by a vein specialist. “If the veins can be treated then I use a combination of endovenous laser and sclerotherapy. Not all veins can be treated and more than one treatment may be necessary.”
When there's pain in the veins in your hands
If you suffer from painful veins, consult your doctor to seek relief. Varicose veins—those purple spidery veins caused by weakening walls of blood vessels—can be painful but aren’t dangerous. But it’s important to get a medical opinion to rule out more serious conditions, such as blood clots, malfunctioning blood valves or cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection.