Are they a sign of anything else
Thread veins – also known as spider or broken veins – are one of those physical characteristics you probably never think about until they appear on your body.
Typically on the legs, these veins affect up to 88% of women and 79% of men.
Medically called ‘telangiectasia’, thread veins on the legs are very small blood vessels within the living layer of the skin (the dermis) that have become dilated and visible. Very smalls ones are red – as they get bigger, the colours change through purple to red and then green.
Contrary to popular belief, the condition can strike at any age. As with the majority of medical conditions, thread veins are more common the older one gets, but that doesn’t stop young people from getting them if their genes determine they will.
89% of women who think they only have thread veins actually have underlying varicose veins feeding them.
More concerning, 40% have more serious hidden varicose veins that may go on to cause other problems in the future.
This means that treating the thread veins that can be seen on the surface is only sensible in 11% of women – in others, the underlying problem needs to be explored. Professor Whiteley recommends an ultrasound for anyone with thread veins so they know exactly what’s going on.
What causes thread veins?
Treatments for thread veins
The biggest influence on thread veins is your parents and the genes they gave you. The stronger the familial link, and the more relatives you have with these veins, the more likely you are to have them.
Trauma, though very rare, can also be a factor in whether you will develop thread veins, particularly where an individual has experienced crushing of the skin, or where fat has been destroyed and surgical scarring is extensive.
Research from around the world has shown that leg thread veins are best treated by microsclerotherapy, once any underlying problem has been identified and treated.
At Professor Whiteley’s clinic, once they have treated any underlying vein problems, that recommend that patients undergo a course of microsclerotherapy, which involves injecting a very dilute sclerosant solution using an exceptionally small needle under very high magnification into the veins, which permanently destroys the dilated blood vessels.
Using this technique, 80% of patients reported an ‘excellent result’, while a further 15% saw a ‘good improvement’ to the visible signs of thread veins.