Here’s What You Can Actually Do About the Visible Veins on Your Legs

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About two years ago, I was shaving my legs when I noticed a series of faint blue lines twisting around my thigh. Of course, the first thing I did was go to Dr. Google to find out how to get rid of spider veins. Some of the recommended home remedies include ginger tea, massage, and even exercise. Here’s the honest truth: That’s all BS. Visible veins aren’t something you can fix at home.

I talked to dermatologists and surgeons who specialize in treating spider veins and varicose veins (the larger, raised veins in the leg). What I learned is that these visible veins that typically appear on the legs are hereditary (thanks, Mom), but they can also be a sign of a much deeper vein problem that no home remedy is likely to fix. Here are the facts about visible veins and how to get rid of them.

There are two types of visible veins—spider veins and varicose veins.

Spider veins are the most common type of visible vein. “Spider veins are really small superficial veins that are in the outer layer of skin between the dermis and epidermis, so you can see them,” Christopher Hollingsworth, M.D., a vein surgeon at NYC Surgical Associates, tells SELF. “If you live long enough, most people are going to get them.” Bummer. These veins get their name because they look like thin, weblike blue and purple lines on the legs.

aricose veins are larger veins that are deeper in the body. “You won’t see them as a discoloration, you’ll see them when they get so stretched out that they kind of bulge,” says Dr. Hollingsworth. Varicose and spider veins are connected. Patients who have varicose veins almost always have spider veins, too. However, some people get spider veins and never have a problem with varicose veins.

To understand why these visible veins happen, you’ve got to understand how blood flows through the body.

Get ready for a quick anatomy lesson. Your heart pumps blood to your entire body through your blood vessels. Blood circulates outward towards the extremities (legs, arms, head) through the arteries and back inward to the heart through your veins.