Leg Spider Veins and Thread Veins

Leg spider veins are unsightly vessels in the skin up to 1 mm in size. Also known as thread veins or broken veins, the medical term for these veins is telangiectasia.

What do leg spider veins look like?

Spider veins have a typical appearance and most people instantly recognise them. They can occur anywhere on the leg but they are frequently found on the outer thigh, inner calf and around the ankle.

What causes leg spider veins?

In my practice, the majority of people asking for advice or treatment are women. Of course, men get them too, but because men have hairy legs and tend to wear trousers, spider veins are of more concern to women than to men. 

Young women with no symptoms usually have no underlying issues with the veins underneath the skin and in this situation, the spider veins are said to be “idiopathic”. Women who have symptoms such as leg throbbing, swelling or leg discomfort, may have underlying vein problems or even varicose veins. In this situation, the spider veins are said to be “secondary”. This is an important point, because people with idiopathic spider veins can have injection treatments pretty much straight away, whereas, people with secondary spider veins are best advised to have a leg check up with an ultrasound scan.


When are spider veins a problem?

For most people, it is the unsightly appearance of the spider veins that causes embarrassment, poor self-esteem and lack of confidence. This is often the motivation for seeking help. For others, symptoms such as leg ache, throbbing and swelling may cause concern. 

Spider Veins around the ankle

Spider veins around the ankle may indicate a major problem with the function of veins below the skin and these spider veins should always be taken seriously. These veins are called “Corona Phlebectatica” also known as ankle flare. So spider veins around the ankle may actually be a health problem.

Spider veins around the ankle may also indicate that the skin is being damaged by a faulty vein circulation. In this situation, the skin becomes thin and white and it is particularly vulnerable to injury and ulceration. In fact, spider veins around the ankle (corona phlebectatica) in association with “atrophie blanche” are warning signs of the risks of developing a leg ulcer

How can Spider Veins be treated?

People with no symptoms, no ankle flare or varicose veins can be treated by Micro-injections (Microsclerotherapy). Microsclerotherapy involves the injection of a prescription medicine into the vein. Microsclerotherapy is  a very delicate injection procedure and requires skill and accuracy. The prescription medicine is called a sclerosant. It works by removing the delicate lining of the spider veins and a healing process starts which causes the vein to fade and disperse.