What is a Blown Vein?

When inserting an IV line, a nurse may accidentally puncture your vein with the needle, resulting in what is known as a blown vein. 


Read on to find out what are the main causes and symptoms of a blown vein and how Reset IV nurses ensure the safety of your IV therapy treatment. 

What Is a Blown Vein?

A blown vein is a vein that is damaged by a needle during an IV procedure and, as a result, leaks blood. If you have a blown vein, you’ll notice that your skin begins to darken around the injection site. Other symptoms of a blown vein include:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling
  • Hematoma
  • Stinging
  • Pain or discomfort.

Is a blown vein dangerous?

A blown vein is usually harmless and doesn't cause any long-term damage. In most cases, you are likely to experience only minor discomfort that lasts a couple of days. The bruising will gradually get lighter and disappear within 10 to 12 days.

When a vein blows, however, it is essential that the needle is removed immediately. The vein should not be used for inserting an intravenous line until it heals completely. Your nurse will choose another vein to continue the procedure.

In rare cases, a blown vein may collapse. This happens when the sides of a vein become swollen and cave in toward each other, preventing blood from flowing freely. If the damage is severe, a collapsed vein can become permanent.

Another potential complication of a blown vein is infiltration, where the IV solution is inadvertently administered into the tissue surrounding a blown vein. If a significant quantity of fluid has accumulated under the skin, infiltration may cause nerve damage. 

A blown vein may also lead to extravasation, that is tissue destruction or blistering, which occurs when the medication leaking out of the vein becomes toxic. Extravasation may need to be treated with antibiotics to prevent infection. 

A variety of factors can cause a vein to blow during IV therapy. Let’s see what they are.

What Causes a Blown Vein?

There are several reasons why a vein may blow when a nurse inserts an IV catheter. Here are some of them:

Accidentally perforating both sides of the vein

In most cases, a blown vein occurs when a needle enters the vein and goes out through the other side, causing a leak. Perforating both sides of the vein may happen for a variety of reasons, for example:

  • The needle is too large for the vein.
  • The needle is inserted at the wrong angle.
  • You have so-called rolling veins that bounce away when a nurse tries to insert a needle.

Inserting a needle into a movable vein

Some veins move around when pressure is applied to the area, which makes it more difficult to insert a needle or keep it in the vein.

Inserting a needle into a highly sensitive or fragile vein

Your vein may blow if its walls are extremely fragile or too thin to be perforated.

Moving while a needle is inserted into the vein

If you move while the needle is being inserted, you’re increasing the risk of having your vein blown. That’s why it’s important to remain as still as possible until the needle is in place.

Read on to find out how medical professionals treat a blown vein. 

How to Treat a Blown Vein

If you have a blown vein, your nurse will immediately turn off the IV drip. The nurse will then apply light pressure to the affected area to bring down the swelling, or an ice pack if there is a lot of swelling. After the site has been cleaned to prevent infection, you will have a new IV line inserted into the other arm to continue the treatment. 

To help your blown vein heal, you should rest the affected arm and avoid any strenuous activity. You may also want to apply cold packs to your arm at regular intervals to reduce swelling.

However, if you experience significant swelling, blood leak into the surrounding area, abnormal sensitivity, or if there is a risk of infection, you will need to receive immediate medical assistance to prevent any complications.

Here’s what your nurse will do to avoid blowing a vein.

Ways to Avoid Getting a Blown Vein from an IV

To minimize the risk of blowing a vein, your nurse will take the following precautions:

  • Take the time to identify the best possible vein for inserting a needle. The vein should be visible, straight, and have the right size.
  • Stabilize the vein by placing a thumb below the puncture site.
  • Choose the correct size of the needle for the vein.
  • Insert the needle at a 15–30-degree angle.
  • Withdraw the needle slowly and carefully while applying gentle pressure to the injection site.

What you can do to avoid getting a blown vein from an IV treatment:

  • Drink plenty of water and hydrate well before your IV therapy. 
  • Remain as still as you can while the nurse inserts the needle and try not to move until the tourniquet is loosened.
  • Inform the nurse in advance if your veins have blown in the past and let them know if you experienced any complications.

How Reset IV Nurses Avoid Blown Veins

At Reset IV, our priority is to provide IV treatments that meet the highest safety standards. Our nurses are qualified to deliver the safest procedure possible. They are fully licensed and insured in accordance with the strict standards in the states we operate in. Besides, they have years of experience working in hospitals and clinics and have administered over 12,000 IVs in total. 

Our nurses use a sterile solution of water, electrolytes, vitamins, and medications that are specifically developed for intravenous therapy and tailored to your individual needs. In addition, our sterile top-of-the-line catheters provide blood control and help reduce the risk of blood exposure and contamination. Our needles help maximize your comfort with low penetration force in order to make your IV therapy a smooth and painless process.