Thread veins - sometimes called spider veins or broken veins - are fine capillaries just below the surface of the skin, usually around the calf or thigh area.
Most of the time you don’t see them because the amount of blood that flows through them is negligible. But sometimes the capillaries come under pressure to carry more blood. They dilate and, because the skin above them is very thin, become visible.
Thread veins can appear on the legs, face or body. Some people simply live with them, but for others they can deeply distressing.
Fifty percent of women in their 20s have thread veins on their legs, and this rises to seventy percent by the age of 50. There is a definite hereditary link, and they are also associated with hormonal changes during pregnancy and the menopause.
Jobs involving a lot of standing around an be a problem too.
Firstly I need to assess if you only have thread veins or if there are varicose veins present too. I do this using a venous duplex ultrasound scan. If there are varicose veins it indicates there is a deeper structural problem which will require referral to a vascular surgeon.
The veins are so small that a very powerful magnifying glass with a strong circular light is used in order to get the very best view of the target thread veins or spider veins. After cleaning your skin I inject a product called Sclerovein very accurately into the tiny capillaries. This contains an irritant called polidocanol to destroy the action of the blood vessel. The treatment takes between thirty minutes and one hour and afterwards the legs will look red and bruised but this is normal and will settle.
It is advised not to take hot baths, rub the skin with a loofah or lie in the sun immediately after the procedure.
To achieve optimum results, the treated veins need to be continuously compressed for 14 days and nights. This is the time needed for the body to turn the dying vein into scar tissue and is best achieved by wearing compression hosiery.
Most people require at least three treatments so if you’re planning to get rid of your veins before a holiday it is best to have it at least four months ahead of time.