Thread veins, also known as spider veins, are a common type of varicose vein called telangiectasia. These small clusters of veins often appear on the face or legs, and particularly affect women.
Whilst thread veins do not tend to present any major health problems, those experiencing them can find them unsightly and embarrassing. Concealing make-up and long clothing are often used to help to cover up areas where there are thread veins on the body.
Causes of thread veins
Thread veins (or telangiectasia) occur when venules, which are the smallest veins, become enlarged. Venules are very thin-walled veins so can be prone to this issue.
Veins have one-way valves inside them, which push blood in one direction – back to the heart. When these valves weaken, some blood flows backward and accumulates, putting pressure on the wall of the vein.
This causes the venules to form threadlike lines or patterns on the skin, hence the term ‘spider’ veins. These patterns form gradually and often in clusters.
The exact causes of thread veins are not known, they are likely to be genetic, environmental or a combination of both.
Some of the causes of thread veins may include:
- a predisposition to thread veins if a blood relative has them
- exposure to the sun or extreme temperatures
- pregnancy, which can put pressure on venules
- alcohol intake, which can affect the flow of blood in the vessels
- the ageing process can cause venules to weaken
- rosacea, which creates a flushed appearance primarily on the cheeks
- long-term use of topical steroids can thin and weaken the skin.
Symptoms of thread veins
Thread veins appear as threadlike red marks or patterns on the skin. They are common in areas of the body that are easily seen, such as around the lips, nose, eyes and cheeks.
When thread veins are present on the legs, they can form anywhere from the top of the thigh to the ankle. They appear as small purple or red veins and can spread over quite large areas on this part of the body.
Thread veins develop gradually, but can be worsened by health issues or abrasive skin products.
Treatment for thread veins
Laser treatment can be very effective for thread veins on both the face and legs.
For most patients, laser treatments will eliminate the appearance of thread veins by targeting them with photon (light) energy.
Laser treatment works by targeting the red pigment in the blood, within the blood vessels at the surface of the skin. The light is converted into heat energy to coagulate the blood in the small vessels. This causes the vessel wall of the thread vein to collapse.
In time, the vessel is broken down and absorbed by the body, but results can be seen soon after treatment.
How do I know which treatment is right for me?
Before any treatment is agreed you will receive a free consultation with one of our experts. They will assess your skin and provide you with a recommended treatment plan. They’ll be realistic about the results which can be achieved, so you’ll know exactly what to expect.
What results can I expect?
Most patients see a visible reduction in their thread veins, but when you visit us for your free consultation, our expert team will advise you on the likely outcome from your personal treatment plan.
Are the treatment results permanent?
The results of laser thread vein treatment are permanent. However, if you are prone to thread veins, occasional maintenance treatments may be needed if new veins appear.
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