In winter months it’s easy to hide away our legs in layers. We can forget about those little niggles of insecurity that we have about our legs being a little less toned or those little veins that won’t go away. But as the weather starts to get warmer we can no longer hide, nor should we have to. Suffering from varicose veins, thread or spider veins needn’t be a problem anymore with so many great treatments now available. So now’s the time to get your smile and confidence back and banish your vein woes for good.
Ready to start your journey to a better you this summer but don’t know what your options are? Our experts, Louise O’shea, Dr Toni Philips & Jessica Cannel provide advice on the best options for vein removal treatment.
What’s the difference between varicose, spider and thread veins?
Varicose veins are swollen and enlarged veins which can be dark blue, red or skin coloured in appearance.
Thread veins (or spider veins as they are also called) are similar to varicose veins but are much smaller and as such require different treatment.
What causes varicose veins?
Varicose veins are caused when the small valves inside the veins stop working properly. Damaged valves inside veins can restrict the blood flow causing blood to collect in the vein and causing the dark purple or blue lines appearing on the body. Varicose veins can occur on any part of the body, with particular problem areas being the face or leg region.
What causes spider or thread veins?
Thread (or spider) veins tend to develop as we age and our skin and blood vessels get less elastic. Hormonal changes, due to pregnancy or the menopause for example, can lead to thread veins.
Lifestyle choices, such as too much exposure to the sun, wind or extreme temperatures, can also cause spider veins to develop and unfortunately thanks to your genes, you can inherit a family tendency to developing these little veins.
So here’s the good news: there are a number of treatments available to you which will help to reduce the appearance of veins over time:
Sclerotherapy for varicose veins is possible, depending on the severity of the problem and should be discussed with a practitioner for a tailored result.
Each session can take between 30 to 60 mins and the vein starts to fade after a few weeks. It’s highly effective but in some cases you may have to repeat the procedure in 4-6 weeks.
What our experts say:
Dr Toni Phillips
Unsightly spider or thread veins on the legs can be a real issue, especially in the warmer months or on holidays.
Sclerotherapy is an injectable treatment that specifically targets small to medium areas of veins that are close to the surface of the skin.
The treatment involves carefully injecting a prescription solution (sclerosing agent) which will collapse the tiny vessels and allow them to disintegrate away. The results are usually immediate and one treatment is often enough to achieve a highly satisfying result.
Additional treatments may be required for larger areas or to optimise the results of a treated area.
If the veins are a little larger, some bruising can be expected and will resolve within 5-10 days. The possibility of this occurring will be assessed and discussed at the time of consultation. In these cases, we recommend that the treatment is done at a time when the client is happy to keep the treated areas covered (i.e. cooler months and not right before a holiday).
Following a Sclerotherapy treatment, it will be necessary to wear a compression stocking for a few weeks. The aim of this is to support the surrounding vasculature (blood vessels) and encourage optimal lymphatic drainage to clear the treated area, so that the best results are obtained.
Overall, Sclerotherapy is a simple, highly effective and cost-effective way to remove unsightly thread veins.
There are some instances where the thread veins are the direct result of a deeper, underlying varicose problem. Our nurses will perform a simple test using a device called a Doppler, which will usually identify if this is the case. In more complex cases, it may be necessary to refer for a Duplex (ultrasound) to determine the exact nature of the varicose problem. In both of these cases, Sclerotherapy treatment is not recommended until the varicose issue is treated by a Vascular Consultant
Advanced Electrolysis uses small current of electricity to cauterise the problem area on the skin.
What our experts say:
IPL and advanced electrolysis are both very effective ways of treating small red surface capillaries.
Intense Pulsed Light utilises the benefit of yellow light in a variety of wavelengths flashed over the red veins. The blood in the capillaries is heated in milliseconds to about 70 degrees which feels like a hot flick on the skin. Once the red veins have been covered they will flush red around the general area showing that the capillary walls have been damaged.
Gradually over the next 2 – 6 weeks the capillary breaks down and the body’s lymphatic system will remove it. To treat the capillaries it is best to have a course of about 3 – 6 treatments with treatments being 4 weeks apart.
Advanced electrolysis is good for small red veins that are very near the surface of the skin – for example on the cheeks and around the corners of the nose. An electrolysis needle is a very fine metal filament that is gently dotted along the length of the cappilary. Often they can disappear immediately and then continue to break down under the skin over the next few weeks. Immediately after the treatment the skin can look quite flushed and will feel hotter and sometimes a little itchy for about an hour.
Both of these methods are best for small red capillaries – not the blue or purple ones. We always recommend a course of treatments for best results. Because the capillaries are a physical thing in the skin there is always a chance the skin can grow new ones in the future so some people may require some maintenance treatments after a few months.
There are a number of changes you can make to help prevent varicose veins from forming or getting worse.
Try to avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. Make sure to take breaks during the day and try to walk more if you have an office job or if you have a really active day, remember to rest.
- Try to avoid crossing your legs
- Do physical activities regularly as this helps blood move through your veins.
- improve blood flow by losing weight if you are obese or overweight.
- While skinny jeans are a fashion favourite they’re not such a favourite with your poor limbs. Tight clothing around your waist, thighs and legs can make varicose veins worse.
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For a confidential, detailed discussion about varicose or thread vein treatment speak to one of our local, expert consultants.