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What Is a Collapsed Vein?

By Meshell Powell
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A collapsed vein occurs when the exterior walls of the vein cave inward. This may be due to traumatic injury from repeated needle sticks or natural disease processes. Symptoms may include bruising, pain, or itching. Treatment is not usually necessary, as the vein will normally repair itself quite easily. If the collapse occurs due to medical problems such as vascular disease, the underlying medical condition must be addressed. Any specific questions or concerns about a collapsed vein in an individual situation should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

Repeated needle sticks in the same general area of the body are among the leading causes of a collapsed vein. This symptom primarily occurs among those who must receive injections on a regular basis and is particularly common among the elderly due to thinning skin and weakened blood vessels. A long stay in the hospital that requires the use of intravenous medications or repeated blood draws may also increase the risks of having a collapsed vein. Poor technique by the health care provider or the injection of medications that can irritate the blood vessels may also lead to vein collapse.

A disease known as peripheral vascular disease is sometimes the cause of venous collapse. This disease causes reduced blood flow and increased pressure in the blood vessels, occasionally leading to collapse. Varicose veins, which can be highly noticeable and uncomfortable, are particularly vulnerable to collapse.

In most cases, there are no noticeable symptoms associated with a collapsed vein. Sometimes, there may be a slight burning sensation or mild discomfort at the site of the collapse. A few minutes to a few hours later, mild to moderate bruising may occur, but this is generally of no medical significance. As the bruising begins to heal, the area may begin to itch.

Treatment for a collapsed vein is rarely necessary, especially when it occurs as a result of a needle stick. The blood vessel will usually repair itself quickly, and there is rarely a medical risk resulting from the collapse of a vein. The exception to this would be a major rupture associated with a form of vascular disease. If there is severe pain or extreme bruising, a doctor should be consulted right away for further medical evaluation. In the most severe cases, surgical intervention may become necessary to repair the damaged vein and prevent excessive blood loss and other potential complications.

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Discussion Comments
By anon1005300 — On Jul 31, 2021

I had a big, long varicose vein running down the back of my left leg and I noticed recently that there is a long bruise where the vein was and I assume the vein has collapsed. Should I be concerned? It doesn’t hurt or burn or bother me but it looks terrible!

By bythewell — On Jan 10, 2013

@Mor - Well, it's worse when you can't find your own vein I guess. I have a friend who is diabetic and one of the things that people don't realize is that eventually they start to run out of places to stick the needles.

The usual areas just become too traumatized, with collapsed veins and scarring and they run the risk of infection or worse, so they keep having to find new places to inject their medication.

I think that there are some new methods of delivering insulin now so that this isn't as much of a problem. I imagine one day we won't have to worry about collapsed veins or anything similar because they'll be able to administer everything without breaking the skin.

By Mor — On Jan 10, 2013

It's so annoying when they can't find a vein and they have to stick you over and over again to try and find it. I mean, I know no one does that on purpose and sometimes it's just very difficult to find a vein, but it's hard to stay sitting there when they end up having to hurt you over and over for something that's unpleasant enough as it is.

I can definitely see why people who are in hospital for a while often get given a permanent line, so that they don't have to worry about that sort of thing, or collapsed veins either.

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