Thread veins, which are also known as spider veins, dermal flares or telangiectasia are unsightly blood vessels which can be seen through the skin. They vary in colour, size and appearance but all can cause embarrassment and prevent baring of the affected skin.
Thread veins are not varicose veins; they are generally painless, though some people may experience aching and itching, and they will not turn into varicose veins. Almost all are amenable to treatment.
Thread veins may be very fine and red in colour, or they may be larger purple and branching; some are matted and may be mistaken for a bruise. Others are blue, raised, wriggling or straight; frequently people will have a mixture of types.
Very few people get through life without developing a single thread vein but some people develop many more than others. Heredity is the single most important factor though pregnancy, injuries, hormonal changes, some forms of exercise and prolonged standing also play a part. They may also occur with varicose veins, and are most common on the legs. They occur more frequently in women than men and tend to get worse with age. The majority of people seeking treatment are troubled by leg or facial veins but they can be treated wherever they appear on the body.
Sclerotherapy is the first choice treatment for almost all types of thread veins on the legs.
Treatment sessions take place at the Baskerville Clinic and take approximately 30 minutes. After treatment you can return to work immediately (some people have this treatment in their lunch hour).
Microinjection sclerotherapy involves the introduction of the smallest disposable needle into a vein in order to inject a minute amount of sclerosant solution. This breaks down the lining of the vessel so that blood can no longer flow through it. The residual tissue is then removed by the body's natural mechanism over a period of time and the vessels disappear.
This treatment cannot prevent the appearance of new thread veins, but since the sclerosant solution is quickly broken down it can be repeated whenever thread veins need treatment. A very considerable number of veins can be treated in a session, though there is a limit to how much solution can be injected on each occasion.
In recent years there have been many advances in the use of lasers in the treatment of Thread Veins, and there are many clinics offering different types of treatment. Treatment time is similar to sclerotherapy and you are free to return to your usual activities afterwards.
Whilst laser therapy is extremely successful with facial thread veins, it is generally acknowledged that the treatment of choice for the rest of the body is Microinjection Sclerotherapy. Here at the Baskerville Clinic we are able to advise on all forms of laser therapy and are very well acquainted with the many options currently available.
This treatment, whereby a probe is inserted at intervals along the vessel and an electric current used to 'fry' the thread veins, is still in use but has become less popular since the advent of laser therapy.
Spider veins and microinjection sclerotherapy
Spider veins, thread veins, telangiectasia or spider capillaries of the legs are a common problem, particularly affecting women. Small purple, blue or red vessels, sometimes called sunburst or stardust veins because of their appearance, can occur anywhere on the leg from the top of the thigh to the foot. While these spider veins do not pose any major health problem, they may cause discomfort. Many people who have spider capillaries find them unsightly and often attempt to conceal them with clothing or cosmetic cover ups.
Microinjection sclerotherapy is a simple treatment for unwanted spider veins giving an expected 70% improvement.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a doctor, using a syringe with a very small needle, injects a solution directly into the vessel. This causes the vein to become irritated and shut, thus prohibiting the blood from flowing through it. Bandaging is not required.
Most patients report little discomfort, although some notice some tingling during the injections. A few patients experience itching for several minutes after the treatment.
Initially the treated area looks like an insect bite. Bruises develop over the next 48 hours. These take some weeks to fade, depending on the size and type of veins treated, but the legs always look worse before they get better!
You should not sunbathe or use a sun bed for 3 weeks following a treatment session but it is not necessary to avoid the sun completely. Vigorous leg treatments should not take place during this time either. However, you may bath or shower the same day, do exercise classes and swim the next, and need not alter your usual regime.
Most patients experience no adverse effects. Very occasionally some minor side effects can occur. These include pigmentation, despite avoiding sunbathing, which resolves in time but takes considerably longer than the bruising to fade; and slight blistering which occurs when small amounts of solution seeps into the surrounding skin areas. These blisters tend to heal rapidly, though a small dark area resembling a freckle may remain. These marks, however, usually resolve in time.
The capillaries destroyed by sclerotherapy will not recur but the treatment cannot prevent the development of further telangiectasia.
No one has determined for certain why some people are affected with spider veins and others are not, however, some families seem predisposed to the condition. Trauma to the leg, in the form of blows or injury may contribute to the formation of these capillaries and long periods of standing or sitting may also have causative factors. Paradoxically some forms of exercise may also predispose to the condition. More women than men seem to develop this condition, perhaps as a result of pregnancy or because of hormonal changes. Sloppy footwear may be a factor in some people as, like sitting and standing, it slows down the venous return. Generally spider veins cannot be prevented, only treated as they occur.