Visible veins on the breast may be concerning for some people. However, visible veins do not typically indicate a serious problem.
Treatment is not usually necessary for veins on the breast, but people who dislike or feel self-conscious about the appearance of their breasts can discuss the options with a cosmetic surgeon.
In this article, we look at five potential causes of visible veins on a person’s breast and explain when a person should see a doctor.
A prominent risk factor for dermatoporosis, or chronic skin fragility, is age. As a person ages, their skin becomes thinner and more prone to tearing and bruising.
These changes make the veins underneath the skin more visible, especially if a person has fair skin or little body fat.
Secondary risk factors can include:
- skin damage due to ultraviolet (UV) A and UVB rays
- long-term use of corticosteroids
During pregnancy, the breasts may become enlarged, which causes the veins to appear more prominent.
An injury to the breasts can cause bruising that resembles swollen or visible veins.
While breastfeeding, some women may notice swollen, veiny spots around their nipples where sucking from the baby has damaged and bruised blood vessels.
These bruises should go away, and the injuries should stop as the woman and baby adapt to breastfeeding.
Varicose veins appear when the valves in the veins are weak, as this causes blood to pool in these vessels.
The veins can become damaged and look misshapen and swollen. Severe varicose veins may feel painful, similar to a bruise.
In many cases, a person may notice a less severe form of varicose veins called spider veins.
Mondor’s disease is a rare vein disease that causes inflammation in the surface level veins in the chest.
This inflammation can cause chest pain, and some people notice changes in their veins, including swelling and increased visibility.
Doctors do not know the exact cause of Mondor’s disease, but they suspect that it might be due to trauma from tight clothing or surgery. In some cases, they think that it may indicate breast cancer, but this is not common.
Mondor’s disease typically goes away on its own.
In most cases, visible veins do not need treatment. However, a person who dislikes the appearance of their veins can seek advice from a cosmetic surgeon.
Several procedures may help reduce the appearance of veins, depending on the cause. These procedures include:
- 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
Cosmetic therapies may also improve the appearance and ease the pain of varicose veins.
Although Mondor’s disease usually resolves without treatment, anti-inflammatory drugs or a warm compress may help reduce the symptoms.
It is not always possible to prevent visible veins, especially as a person ages.
However, people may be able to reduce the likelihood of their veins becoming more visible by:
- 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
In most cases, there is no need to see a doctor, especially if the veins have been visible for a long time. However, it is advisable to see a doctor 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 suspects that they might have 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
Veins are a normal and necessary part of the body. Their presence is usually just a sign that the body is circulating blood.
Some people’s veins are more visible than other people’s, but they do not usually indicate a serious problem.
Anyone who has concerns about their veins should consult a doctor and ask for a referral to a cosmetic surgeon for additional help.