Prominent or unsightly veins on the breast or chest can be distressing. They are usually a blue colour and can be frequently prominent and enlarged. It is usually a problem in women after puberty who have developed a female breast. However, in some conditions, men or some girls at young age can develop pronounced veins on their chest. Also during pregnancy the veins become usually more noticeable. Thus, it would appear that women can have prominent breast veins naturally. However, after breast implants or during pregnancy, it appears that the majority of women will develop prominent breast veins.
BREAST AND CHEST VEINS
Breast veins – most common causes
Pregnancy – As your breasts grow your veins become more noticeable and pronounced under the skin. This is because the blood volume in the body increase early during pregnancy by 40 to 45 % , increasing central venous pressure as a result. Enlarged and visible veins in most cases go away ater you give birth, but it can persist afterward, especially if you breastfeed.
Breast augmentation surgery – If you have had your breasts enlarged, the increase in volume can also make your veins more noticeable, especially if you have fair skin and your veins were visible before surgery. When getting a breast procedure done, the skin is forced to stretch and thin out, which is why these blue veins become more visible.
Breastfeeding – Visible veins are common during breastfeeding, especially when breasts are engorged with milk. That extra volume inside your breasts can cause veins to become more prominent and dilated. As with pregnancy, the veins usually return to normal once you stop breastfeeding.
Hormonal changes – During menstruation and puberty hormones fluctuation result in breast enlargement and make the veins more visible. Sometimes, certain types of oral contraceptives can cause breast veins to become more prominent.
Aging – Older woman are more likely to experience prominent veins in their breasts because their skin tends to become thinner and more transparent causing the veins to become more visible. With age woman’s breast lose fat and volume due to the decrease with hormone levels contributing to vein enlargement. Also an exposure to sun over a long time may play essential role in vein damage resulting in vein enlargement and spider veins formation.
Breast cancer and inflammation – Although there is no link between prominent breast veins and breast cancer, changes in breast veins in some cases can be a sign of cancer, indicating a blockage in a blood vessel that can be caused by a lump or increased supply of blood to the breast due to tumor growth. Some types of breast cancer cause inflammatory changes in the breast tissue which in turn can cause new blood vessels to form. In such cases it is a good idea to schedule a visit with a breast specialist to make sure the breast is healthy before any cosmetic treatment is considered. Some diseases like superficial thrombophlebitis can cause one or more veins in the breast or chest to become inflamed, making the vein visible and tender under the skin. It might be caused by hard exercise, a tight-fitting bra, or a surgical procedure.
Weight gain or weight loss can make your veins more exposed and visible due to increase in volume and skin stretching or losing a fat tissue and firmness. Large and heavy breasts are more likely to develop prominent and visible veins due to increased pressure to the venous system and skin stretching. Equally, losing weight can result in the fat tissue that normally hides the veins getting much thinner, leaving the veins more exposed and easier to see.
How can I prevent visible breast or chest veins?
Some women are simply more prone to develop breast veins due to inherited risk factors (bad genes) or because of hormones fluctuation during puberty or pregnancy. Unfortunately these kind of veins cannot be prevented. Healthy and active lifestyle including regular exercising, wearing properly fitted bra on a regular basis can improve the appearance of your veins and reduce swelling or inflammation.
Which breast veins can be treated?
Any cosmetic procedures in women under 18 years old with developing breasts should not be considered as a good medical practice. Also woman who are either pregnant, breastfeeding or first 3 months after pregnancy are not good.
candidates for any treatment due to hormone imbalance and possible changes in appearance of breast or chest veins.
Similarly, if the veins have only appeared since taking the oral contraceptive pill or hormone replacement therapy, then care should be taken before thinking of any intervention. These veins might go of their own accord when the hormones change again.
In conclusion, breast or chest veins that are unsightly and enlarged or prominent in women over 18 years, who are not pregnant or breastfeeding with no underlying medical condition are the most suitable candidates for treatment. Women who have had breast augmentation before are most likely the best candidates to have their veins removed.
Treatment of breast veins/chest veins
Unlike veins of the legs and pelvis, breast veins and chest veins do not have underlying veins feeding high pressure blood into them.
Therefore, there is not usually any need for a duplex ultrasound or any other scan of the veins. This is one of the few areas in phlebology where the assessment of the veins can be made safely without a duplex ultrasound scan or other test.
However, although there is no link between prominent breast veins and breast cancer, if there are any concerns at all about any lumps in the breast, nipple discharge, any sudden change in the breast veins such as the veins suddenly going hard and red (thrombophlebitis or clots of the breast veins), or indeed any worries about the breast itself, it is best to see a breast specialist first to ensure the breast is healthy.
Prominent or enlarged breast veins and chest veins can be treated by a special aesthetic procedure called mniphlebectomy under local anesthesia. A special incision technique and instruments that are used reduce the risk of scars over the usual incisions that are made in the skin. The incisions are small, and in fact no stitches are used allowing the wounds to heal fast leaving no visible scars on the skin.
Foam sclerotherapy procedure
Injecting sclerotherapy as a foam can be very effective in treating smaller and flatter veins of the breast and chest.
Veins that are blue or green, and that are quite narrow and do not bulge, tend to be the ones that respond best to foam sclerotherapy.
If the vein is too large or prominent, then it is more likely that foam sclerotherapy will cause a clot in the vein and a brown mark that might stay for a long time – or rarely might be permanent.
Therefore, we only recommend foam sclerotherapy for small and non-bulging veins on the breast and chest.
In addition, we recommend patients to wear very strong support for 3 weeks day and night over the areas of foam sclerotherapy injection to get the best results and lowest risk of brown stains.
Depending on the extent of the breast veins, more than one session of foam sclerotherapy might be needed.
We recommend waiting at least 8-12 weeks after each treatment before assessing the result and deciding if any further treatment might be needed.
Some patients, especially those who have had breast implants, can have very extensive breast veins of varying sizes.
In such patients, we often start with aesthetic miniphlebectomy and then wait 8-12 weeks to see the results.
If small blue / green veins remain, we can then start foam sclerotherapy treatment. Once again, we then wait for 8 – 12 weeks to see if any further treatment might be needed.
What to do
If you have noticed that your veins in your breast or chest are blue, swollen and enlarged or you are in pain or unhappy with the appearance of your veins, you are welcome to contact us to have them removed during aesthetic procedure. Breast veins typically respond to treatment very well, however, it is imperative that you make sure the your veins are not secondary to other deeper vein problems and/or medical condition. Dr. Marek Sepiolo is skilled in techniques used to allow to effectively eliminate the unsightly breast veins, using an in-office procedure that requires no anesthesia.