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Thread veins on the legs: What are they and what is the best treatment?

Thread veins on the legs, commonly known as spider veins or broken veins are very common and can be very unsightly. In addition, they can cause ache, tired legs, itch and “burning” discomfort. Symptoms are often worse at the times of a period or in warm weather. The veins can vary from fine red marks to larger purple or deep blue veins. They can cause significant cosmetic embarrassment and many women will not wear short skirts in the summer months.

Thread veins are often caused by underlying reflux and varicose veins. For others, the cause is not fully understood but important associations are heredity, pregnancy and hormonal factors. They can also follow minor injuries.

Treatment and removal
Thread veins are quite a complex problem. There are many different types of thread vein and often the underlying varicose veins and superficial venous reflux are not apparent. In order to get the best results from treatment it is very important to have a proper assessment of the whole vein system in the leg to see if there is any connection between the superficial thread veins and the deeper veins. The importance of this is that if there is a connection which is not treated then back flow (reflux) and high pressure will work against the treatment, making it less effective.

In many cases, combination treatments for thread veins to include treatment of varicose veins are required. At The VeinCare Centre, we specialise in the treatment of varicose veins and thread veins on the legs and an ultrasound examination of the whole vein system is part of the consultation.

Recent research has shown that nearly all thread veins have a “feeder” vein nearby that also needs treatment. These veins are called reticular veins. As part of the consultation and examination, a careful search is made for the reticular veins and an individual treatment plan is formulated. Here you can see ‘The Veinlite’ being used to identify the “feeder” veins (known medically as reticular veins).

After varicose veins and reflux are dealt with, the feeder veins and thread veins can be treated directly by an injection technique called “Microsclerotherapy”. A prescription medicine called a sclerosant is injected through a very fine needle (only slightly larger than a human hair) directly into the vein (see image).

This removes the lining of the vein almost instantly and the vein reacts over the next few weeks by shrinking and closing. The procedure is quick and only slightly uncomfortable and you can drive straight away. The healing process that causes the spider veins to disperse takes a few weeks and most people require 3 sessions separated by 6 weeks.