If Blood is Red, Why are Varicose Veins Green?

September 22, 2020
September 22, 2020 Dr Zil

Green veins can look unnerving. If you’ve got crisscrosses of veins that run across your legs, sometimes bulging, all coloured green, you can be forgiven for thinking that there’s something wrong with that blood in particular. While varicose veins can be indicative of deeper issues, the colour isn’t anything to be worried about. In fact, it’s supposed to look green under the skin. The reason for this has nothing to do with the health of the blood, but rather how light works and particular oxygen-carrying pigment in your blood called haemoglobin.

Why are varicose veins green?

When light shines on blood, all the colours are absorbed by this pigment except red. This is why a cut or scrape is a different colour to your varicose veins, as well as the veins in your arms that you might see when giving blood.

However, when a filter is placed between the blood and our eyes, it can change the way the colour is perceived. In this instance, it’s our skin which acts as a filter, changing the colour we see.

But, not all my blood vessels are green

If you have a good look at the pits of your elbows, as well as blood vessels around your arms and some parts of your legs, you’ll notice many of the veins look normal, skin colour or reddish, not green. It’s got nothing to do with the area of the body, but rather the type of blood it is.

When blood is pumped out from the heart, it’s rich in iron and oxygen, giving it a red colour. When mixed with the colour of the skin, it doesn’t show much as the colours aren’t too different. However, when the blood is returning to the heart, it has a higher concentration of carbon dioxide and very little to no oxygen or iron, giving it a blue colour instead.

Mixed with the yellowish colour of the skin, it shows up green.

Are green varicose veins a concern?

While green veins aren’t in itself unusual, it’s a good indicator of what your blood vessels are doing. These are an indicator of impaired blood flow in the legs and venous insufficiency and can be a warning flag for more serious underlying issues. If you have green veins in your leg and they’re not going away, book a consult with us today and we’ll help you find the best solution for treating your veins.

How are varicose veins caused?

Venous insufficiency, which is one of the leading causes of varicose veins, is highly complex and can have multiple risk factors. While the exact reason venous insufficiency develops is often unknown, having more than one risk factor can increase your chances of developing the condition. Below are some of the most common causes of varicose veins:

  • Genetics
  • Pregnancy
  • Menopause
  • Age
  • Weight and lifestyle
  • Extended periods of standing or sitting

Read more: Varicose vein causes.

Diagram showing a normal vein vs a varicose vein.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call  1300 535 017. Or, make an enquiry via the Contact Us page.