A blown vein is a vein that’s mildly injured during a blood draw or IV placement. Symptoms include bruising, swelling and discomfort around your vein. While a blown vein isn’t serious, it needs about 10 to 12 days to heal before your provider can use it again. Always tell your provider if you feel pain or discomfort during a needle insertion.
A blown vein, sometimes called a ruptured vein, is a blood vessel that’s damaged due to a needle insertion. This can happen when a healthcare provider, such as a phlebotomist or nurse, draws blood or inserts a peripheral IV to give you medications or fluids.
During a needle insertion, the tip of the needle should enter your vein wall and land within the opening (lumen) of your vein. Sometimes, though, the tip goes a bit further and pokes through the other side of your vein. As a result, some blood leaks out and pools under your skin (hematoma). This can cause mild, temporary discomfort.
A blown vein usually isn’t dangerous or a cause for concern. It should heal within a couple of weeks. Your provider will wait to use the vein for any further needle insertions until it’s healed.
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Blown vein symptoms occur around the area of your vein and include:
The area around your blown vein may appear red or purple. This is because some blood has leaked out of your vein and pooled under your skin. The discoloration is temporary and should go away within a couple of weeks.
A blown vein happens when something doesn’t go right during a needle insertion. The needle punctures or irritates your vein, causing mild and temporary damage.
Here are some common issues that can interfere with a needle insertion and lead to a blown vein:
When a vein blows during an IV insertion, one possible complication is that the IV substance can leak into nearby tissues. Healthcare providers call this complication infiltration or extravasation, depending on the type of substance that leaks. Extravasation involves substances that may cause greater tissue damage, such as chemotherapy medication.
If you’re on an IV, tell your provider right away if you notice:
These may be signs of a leak. Your provider will also monitor you while you’re on the IV. If they notice a problem, they’ll disconnect you from the IV and give you appropriate treatment.
Providers usually notice a blown vein right away, while drawing blood or inserting an IV, and take action to correct the issue. If you have symptoms of a blown vein later on, when you get home, call your provider and discuss how you’re feeling.
To treat a blown vein, the provider will:
If a blown vein happens during an IV insertion, the provider will look for any signs of infiltration or extravasation. If these complications occur, the provider will:
You can’t prevent all the possible causes of a blown vein. For example, you can’t stop your veins from growing fragile as you get older. But here are some steps you can take to lower your risk:
There’s usually no reason to worry. Your blown vein will heal in about 10 to 12 days. Your provider won’t use that vein for IV access or blood draws until it’s fully healed. It’s a good idea to avoid lifting any heavy objects with your affected arm or hand until your symptoms go away.
Call your provider and let them know if:
Your provider may want you to come in so they can check for possible complications, such as an infection.
Talk to your provider if you’re concerned about blown veins. Some questions you may want to ask include:
A note from Cleveland Clinic
A blown vein usually isn’t anything to worry about. But if it’s happened to you at least once, you may want to talk to your provider. Simple medical procedures shouldn’t cause you discomfort. Your provider will be happy to talk with you about what’s causing the issue and how you can work together to lower the risk of it happening again.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 01/12/2023.
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