Thread veins are permanently widened (dilated) blood vessels which typically occur on the lower limbs especially thighs and lower legs. They tend to appear in adult life and do not usually have any medical significance, but some people may find their thread veins unsightly.
What treatments for Thread Veins Are available?
Dr Seaton undertakes treatment of thread veins, called sclerotherapy. In this treatment the dermatologist cleans the skin and then carefully inserts a tiny needle into the feeding vessel of each thread vein. The dermatologist then injects a solution into the vein. This causes the thread vein to empty, irritates the inside wall of the vein and usually causes it to seal off within a few days. The treatment is slightly uncomfortable, and usually causes a red swelling to appear around each injected vein for a few hours. Injection sites are taped immediately afterwards and dressing left in place for 48 hours. Injected veins often go black and they clot off and so can look more obvious for a several weeks, before they disappear. For this reason some people prefer to avoid treatment in the spring or summer when legs are more likely to be exposed. Scabbing or crusting may occur a few days after the injections, but scarring is unusual. Laser treatments are also sometimes used.
Why do Thread Veins Occur?
They are thought to occur on the lower limbs in particular because of the effect on gravity blood flow, leading to pooling of blood which tends to stretch blood vessels with time. Thread veins may occur after pregnancy, because of the effect of the baby pressing on the large veins in the abdomen, which slows the flow of blood back from the legs to the heart. Occasionally thread veins may indicate a more general problem with vein circulation in the lower legs, especially if varicose veins are present, the ankles have a tendency to swell or if the skin appears abnormally dry, pigmented or inflamed. Dermatologists are very used to assessing and treating patients with these type of skin changes. The dermatologist may suggest referral to a vascular surgeon if varicose veins are present.