I have swollen veins, are they normal? What are different types of varicose veins?

Do large ugly veins on your legs and hands trouble you? How do you tell whether those veins are normal or are they diseased veins? You have heard of terms like varicose veins, spider veins, reticular veins and hemangioma and you are not sure which one you have.

Let me start by saying that not every prominent vein you see on your body is diseased. Some of them may just be normal but clearly visible because you have a very thin layer of body fat.

For ease of understanding, I shall divide this blog into the following categories. Please bear in mind that this division may not be medically correct or comprehensive. Its intention is to cover commonly seen situation in a daily clinical practice.

  • Prominent and swollen but normal veins
  • Varicose veins
    • Spider veins
    • Reticular veins
    • Varicose veins
  • Congenital (in born) abnormal veins
    • Hemangioma


The best example of this is prominent veins on the back of the hand. They are often seen in people who use their hand muscle a lot. The muscle activity increases blood circulation thus causing the veins to enlarge.

When present on the leg, it can sometime be difficult to differentiate them from varicose veins. They are often straight and evenly prominent unlike varicose veins that are tortuous and bulges unevenly .

These veins do not cause you harm and can be left alone. However, if you really hate the appearance, your doctor can remove them quite easily by doing Foam Sclerotherapy for you. This is a procedure where a chemical is converted into foam and injected into the vein to close it.


1. Spider Veins
These veins are < 1mm in diameter and they appear purplish or reddish in colour. They are often present on the outer aspect of the thigh and back of the knee. As the name implies, they appear in clusters and often looked like spider webs.

2. Reticular Veins
These veins measures 1-3mm in diameter and they often appear together and near the spider veins. They are actually the feeder for the spider veins. They appear bluish or greenish in color and they are flat and don’t bulge from the surface.

3. Varicose Veins
These veins measures >3mm in diameter and they looked like snakes under the skin of the leg. They are very tortuous and bulges unevenly along it s path. Their color is dependent on the depth from the skin. The one near to the surface often appear blusih or greenish, but the deeper one appeared to be completely covered by the skin.


These are veins that are not formed properly and they are present since birth. They can be found in any parts of the body, including the face, hand, buttock and leg. They vary in size and can range from a 1-2cm to large size covering the whole of a face or thigh or buttock.

May 2, 2010

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