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Thread Veins

Thread veins, commonly called spider veins, are tiny prominent veins just below the skin surface.

They tend to branch and give a spidery sort of pattern, hence their common name. Spider veins can occur anywhere on the body, but most often on the legs and face.

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Thread veins
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Leg Thread Veins

Although they are usually just a cosmetic problem, thread veins on the legs can cause symptoms like burning pain and itching. The best treatment for thread veins is microsclerotherapy (injections with a tiny needle), but this must be done properly.

It is important, even with asymptomatic thread veins, to assess patients with duplex ultrasound scan to rule out the presence of valve failure in larger, deeper veins. If valve failure is present and left untreated, the thread veins will recur or will not respond to treatment. It is also important to check – with either high-resolution ultrasound scanning or devices like Veinlite® – that there is not a reticular vein (a large blue feeder vein) leading to the thread vein clump. If a reticular feeder is discovered, it is important to close this off first by foam sclerotherapy.

The best chemicals to inject are prescription-only; they can only be prescribed by a doctor, and can only be administered under his supervision. Many beauty parlours often offer thread vein injections, but these will normally be using less-effective chemicals that beauticians are allowed to use and do not require a doctor’s prescription.

Techniques like laser, IPL and Veinwave™ do not work well on thread veins of the legs, but are effective in managing thread veins on the face.

With meticulous planning and technique, it is possible to get superb results with the vast majority of patients. In general, however, thread veins take longer to get rid of than large varicose veins do. You may need several treatment sessions.

Although the instant results from injecting thread veins are impressive, the veins soon fill up again with blood, and it can take a few days or even weeks for the thread veins to disappear again permanently. During this time, you will probably find that they look worse for a while. Post-treatment, the veins may develop a tiny “blood blister” look, or some brown marks may appear. These will settle eventually. You may also get a mild allergic reaction, like a nettle sting.

Serious reactions are very rare, but a few patients (less than 1%) develop tiny ulcers. These will heal but can leave tiny whitish scars.

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