Read more about thread veins
Thread veins are tiny veins that appear most commonly on the cheeks, nose and legs. Small thread veins are red, but larger ones look purplish. They have many names, including:
- spider veins
- broken veins (not an accurate name, because they are not actually broken)
- capillary veins.
Normally, the tiny veins in the skin are invisible, but in some people they expand and show through the skin. One cause of this is too much exposure to the sun over the years. Another is pregnancy or oestrogen treatment. They may also be inherited. Thread veins can sometimes be a sign of rosacea, a skin condition resulting from overuse of steroid creams. Thread veins are more obvious after mid-life, when the skin becomes thinner and loses some of its collagen. If you have large visible veins, they could be varicose veins.
Thread veins (Figure 1) are red and purple blood vessels that occur in patches on the legs and face. They look like small spider webs, which is why they are known as spider veins. The medical term for spider veins is telangiectasia and varicose veins are not the same condition. Varicose veins are large, swollen veins usually affecting the legs whereas spider veins are delicate and tend to develop in clusters (Figure 2).
Figure 1. Thread veins as they commonly appear in patches over the legs
Figure 2. Spider Veins usually take on one of these basic patterns. They may appear as thin separate lines (A); they may resemble tiny branch-like shapes (B); or they may appear in a true spider shape with a group of veins radiating outward from a dark central point (C). Type A are commonly seen on the inner knee, whereas the branching pattern usually appears on the outer thigh in a sunburst or cartwheel distribution.
Spider veins used to be treated by a process called Sclerotherapy this is one technique used to treat spider veins (Figure 3). This involves the use of a very fine needle to inject a solution (sclerosant) directly into the veins. The solution causes the lining of the vein to swell, eventually sealing off the blood vessel and preventing blood flow.
After the skin has been thoroughly cleaned with alcohol, a syringe with a tiny needle injects a small amount of the sclerosing (hardening) solution directly into a vein.
The solution displaces the blood within the vein, causing it to blanch or turn white. The vessel then becomes irritated and begins to swell shut. When the needle is withdrawn, pressure is immediately applied to the area. The skin may be kneaded to help disperse the solution and reduce bruising. Each vein may require several injections and most disappear in two weeks to two months. Following each treatment we suggest the wearing of medium support tights for approximately two to three weeks.
Thread Veins are caused by when the blood vessels are enlarged and the process of venous return is not working as it should.
The skin obtains its blood supply from small blood vessels that branch outwards from the main tree of arteries and veins in the body. These blood vessels have thinner walls so can be seen through the surface of the skin. The circulatory system returns the blood flow back to the heart via the larger venules. This process is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.
The London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic, 1 Harley Street, London, differentiates between thread veins and varicose veins. Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi explains that thread veins are close to the skins surface, thread veins are red or bluish in colour and less than 1-2 mm similar to small tree branches. Thread veins can sometimes make your legs ache but no medical treatment is required as the discomfort caused by thread veins is not serious.
Dr Ayham Al-Ayoubi explains in comparison to thread veins that varicose veins are deeper under the skin and are blue or green in colour. Varicose veins are larger and more prominent and will require medical treatment as this is a sign that the circulatory system is not working properly.
How does the Cynosure Elite Laser Treatment work?
At The London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic at 1 Harley street, London we work with a number of leading suppliers in the industry to ensure that we bring you a wide range of highly effective treatments that are suitable for the majority of treatment we provide. We invest heavily in state-of-the-art equipment and products to deliver the best results for you. Cynosure supplies us with a large number of our lasers. They are a leading developer and manufacturer of a broad array of light-based aesthetic and medical treatment systems.
Cynosure’s Elite Aesthetic Workstation is the most comprehensive laser hair removal system available today. It allows us to treat a broad range of skin types including facial veins and leg thread veins.
To best serve the needs of our customers, we at The London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic use Cynosure Elite Laser Treatment as it offers the Elite’s dual-wavelength functionality as two stand-alone products: the Acclaim and the Apogee, which is the best solution for hair and spider vein removal.
The Cynosure Elite Laser emits a beam of highly concentrated light to the vein. Different types of lasers produce different colours of light. The colour of light produced by a particular laser is the key to the laser’s effect on telangiectasia.
Different colours of light are absorbed by specific colours or pigments in the skin; for example, haemoglobin, found in blood, absorbs yellow-green light. The laser’s light energy seals the vein shut, and the now-diminished telangiectasia is reabsorbed by the body. After treatment, the vessel will naturally disappear or be reabsorbed by the body where it should be.
The Cynosure Elite Laser has proven to be safe and effective on all skin types, without involving painful injections.
What are the benefits of laser treatment?
The benefits of laser vein removal over other therapies is that there is no downtime, and it is faster and more effective than other therapies.
How many treatments will I need?
Often patients find that a course of 3 treatments is sufficient. However, we at the London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic aim to achieve full client satisfaction so we tend to say between 1-5 treatments may be needed to achieve maximum results spaced between every 4 – 6 weeks . However, the exact number of treatments vary depending on the patient’s initial skin condition prior to treatment.
Possible side effects
The treatment is so effective that patients can return immediately to work or their daily activities, however, with the leg vein treatment we do recommend that you avoid vigorous activities such as strenuous exercise for at least 24 hours after the laser treatment.
At the London Medical and Aesthetic Clinic most patients experience a slight stinging sensation as the pulses of light energy from the lasers are delivered through the hand piece. No local anaesthetic is required. Following the treatment; the pain is minimal to non-existent.
Some patients may have reported a few, if any, serious after effects. Following treatment the area may appear pink and slightly swollen, which is normal. These effects typically last less than 24 hours. However, we recommend the use of sunscreen on any treated areas exposed to the sun.