Veins run throughout your body and enable blood to be carried to your heart. Though you can’t always see them under the skin, they’re there.
Sometimes veins are more visible through the skin than at other times, especially in the breasts. While this isn’t always a symptom of a problem, especially if the veins have always been visible (as they might be if you have naturally fair skin, for example), it’s something to be aware of.
There are certain conditions in which your breasts can develop visible veins, many of which are benign and easily treated.
What causes veiny breasts?
There are a number of possible causes for veiny breasts.
During pregnancy, especially early pregnancy, your breasts may become veiny. A more accurate description might be that the veins already in your breasts merely become more visible.
This is because your blood volume increases 20 to 40 percent during pregnancy. Your veins are transporting blood, nutrients, and oxygen to your developing fetus. The increased blood volume makes the veins more visible under the skin.
This typically lessens after you give birth, but it can persist afterward, especially if you breastfeed.
Visible veins are common during breastfeeding, especially when breasts are engorged with milk. But if the veins look like spider veins and are accompanied by redness on the breast, fever, and not feeling well, mastitis could be the cause.
Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue, and you need to contact your doctor if you think you have it. It’s easily treated with oral antibiotics, but your doctor will want to examine the area.
Mondor’s disease and other benign conditions
Mondor’s disease is a rare and benign (noncancerous) condition that can occur in both women and men, although it’s more commonly found in women. Also called superficial thrombophlebitis, this condition is caused by inflammation of a vein in the breast or chest wall, making the vein visible under the skin.
It might be caused by hard exercise, a tight-fitting bra, or a surgical procedure. In some cases, it can be a sign of cancer.
So, if you notice a new visible vein, call your doctor and have them take a look to ensure it’s nothing serious.
Another benign condition that can cause a vein in your breast to become prominent is pseudoangiomatous stromal hyperplasia (PASH). This can cause a visible vein in the breast along with a palpable lump and other symptoms that mimic breast cancer.
A surgical biopsy and subsequent examination of the cells under a microscope can determine PASH or cancer.
Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is a kind of breast cancer that typically has visible symptoms on the outside skin of the breast. Symptoms can include:
- a change in the shape or size of the breast
- skin changes that look like the peel of an orange (dimpled or rough)
- inflammation or skin that’s hot to the touch
- veins that grow near these skin changes
Most of the time, newly visible veins are due to breastfeeding or weight gain, but if veins appear near any other changes in the breast, call your doctor immediately to have it looked at.
Breast augmentation can cause visible veins to appear in the breasts. According to a 2009 study, visible veins in the breasts happened almost universally after augmentation. Many people weren’t even aware of the increased visibility, and most weren’t bothered by it.
If you are considering breast augmentation, this might be something to consider. If you’ve had breast augmentation, this could be why you are noticing visible veins in your breasts.
Can PMS cause the veins in my breast to be more visible?
The hormones of your menstrual cycle can influence your breast size, causing them to swell and feel tender. Because of this swelling, there is more blood and fluid in the area, which can cause your veins to be more visible. Veins in your breasts can also be more visible after exercise or when you’re overheated.Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHTAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Can veiny breasts be treated?
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, there’s not much you can do to reduce the appearance of veins underneath your skin. You’re probably much more aware of it than other people, so try not to worry about it! Your body is doing what it needs to do to ensure your baby is getting what it needs.
With conditions like Mondor’s disease, the inflamed vein eventually becomes less visible, although it might take several months.
What is the outlook for veiny breasts?
While veiny breasts can occur for a variety of reasons, the most important thing to remember is that if the visible veins are new, it’s a good idea to call your doctor.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, this is normal if it’s not accompanied by pain.
But if you experience pain or notice any new visible veins on your breasts, this needs to be checked out by a medical professional.