Most causes of veins on the breasts

To certain women, visible veins on the breast can be alarming. But noticeable veins usually do not suggest a serious problem.

Treatment is typically not appropriate for breast veins, but people who dislike or feel self-conscious about their breast’s appearance can explore the options with a cosmetic surgeon.

We look at five potential causes of visible veins on a person’s breast in this article, and explain when a person should see a doctor.

Dermatoporosis

 old woman
A person’s age may influence their risk of developing dermatoporosis.

A common risk factor for dermatoporosis, or the fragility of chronic skin, is age. As a person grows older their skin becomes thinner and more likely to tear and bruise.

These changes make the veins more visible beneath the skin, especially if a person has fair skin or little body fat. EOLBREAK EOLBREAK Factors of secondary risk may include:

  • skin damage due to ultraviolet (UV) A and UVB rays
  • genetics
  • long-term use of corticosteroids

Pregnancy

The breasts may get swollen during pregnancy, which causes the veins to become more prominent.

The breasts will swell and become engorged during breastfeeding too. Visible veins are one common sign of swelling, or edema.

Bruising and trauma

Breast injury can cause bruise that resembles swollen or noticeable veins.

Some women may find swollen, veiny patches around their nipples when breastfeeding, where sucking from the baby has weakened and bruised the blood vessels.

These bruises should go away and as the woman and baby respond to breastfeeding the injuries should cease.

Varicose or spider veins

When the valves in the veins are weak, varicose veins show as this helps blood to pool in those vessels.

The veins can get affected and look unhealthy and swollen. Serious varicose veins have the ability to feel painful, similar to a bruise.

Varicose veins most often affect the legs and feet, but in the breasts it is possible to get these. That, though, is rare.

A person may often have a less severe form of varicose veins, called spider veins.

Mondor’s disease

Mondor’s disease is a rare disease of the veins which causes inflammation in the chest’s surface level veins.

This inflammation can lead to chest pain, and some people notice changes in their veins, including swelling and vision increased.

Physicians do not know the exact cause of Mondor’s disease but they believe it may be due to tight clothing or operation trauma. They think it may suggest breast cancer in some cases but this is not normal.

Usually, Mondor’s disease goes away alone.

Treatment

Visible veins do not necessitate treatment in most cases. A person who dislikes the appearance of their veins may however seek advice from a cosmetic surgeon.

Depending on the cause, different procedures can help to reduce the appearance of the veins. These techniques cover:

  • laser treatments, such as endovenous laser therapy, to shrink or destroy certain veins
  • sclerotherapy, which involves injecting the veins with a chemical that shrinks them
  • radiofrequency ablation, which can also treat small and localized breast cancer

Often, cosmetic treatments can improve the appearance of varicose veins and ease the pain.

While Mondor’s disease typically recovers without medication, the symptoms may be diminished by anti-inflammatory drugs or a warm compress.

Prevention

Noticeable veins are not always preventable, particularly as a person ages.

People may however be able to reduce the risk that their veins will become more noticeable through:

  • ensuring that the baby has a good latch when breastfeeding and seeking help from a doctor or lactation consultant if breastfeeding is painful
  • wearing sunscreen or keeping the chest covered to avoid skin damage that may result in broken blood vessels
  • protecting the breasts when playing contact sports
  • remaining physically active, which can help keep the cardiovascular system, including the veins, healthy

When to see a doctor 

In most cases there is no need to see a doctor, especially if the veins have long been visible. Nonetheless, consultation with a doctor is recommended if:

  • the veins are very large, twisted, or painful
  • new veins suddenly appear for no apparent reason
  • breastfeeding a baby is painful or causes bruising
  • the skin on or around the breasts is red, itchy, or painful
  • there are other symptoms, such as a fever, heat coming from the breasts, or chest pain

If a person is suspected of having breast cancer they should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Symptoms may include:

  • changes in the shape or size of one breast
  • a lump that appears either on the breast or in the armpit
  • red, scaly skin that persists
  • nipple discharge
  • the nipple becoming inverted

Summary

Veins are a natural part of the body and are essential. Their presence is usually just an indicator of the distribution of blood by the body.

The veins of some people are more visible than those of others but they typically do not suggest a serious problem.

Anyone who has questions about their veins should seek additional help from a doctor and request referral to a cosmetic surgeon.

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