Q&A: I have visible veins on my legs. They seem to be getting worse over time. I remember my grandmother lost her leg due to ‘poor circulation’. Do the veins on my legs mean that I am developing poor circulation too?

RunThis is a very common question. The answer is no, the presence of veins on the legs is not reflective of poor circulation.

Approximately 50% of adults develop some degree of visible varicosities by the time they reach age fifty. This is strongly genetic and enhanced by lifestyles that keep us standing or sitting for long periods of time. The visible veins on the legs are superficial veins and are minimally responsible at best for blood return to the heart. They exist primarily for temperature regulation. Therefore, your overall circulation is not affected by these veins becoming larger and visible on the skin.

Your grandmother probably had peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This involves atherosclerotic plaque formation in the arteries and can limit blood flow to the lower extremities, which in severe cases can result in limb loss. The presence of visible veins on your legs does not put you at any higher risk for the development of peripheral arterial disease.

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