Thread veins

Thread veins are small bluish coloured veins in the skin which are prominent and for some people, a source of annoyance. They look similar to varicose veins except that they are less noticeable and don’t cause any problems. They can develop alongside varicose veins or on their own.

Thread veins usually develop on the face or legs.

Thread veins are very common and particularly affect pregnant women who develop them due to the extra strain put on their legs by the developing baby.

They are harmless but some people find them annoying and undergo treatment to hide or remove them.

Causes of thread veins

Pregnancy is one factor but in many cases they are inherited. Thread veins do run in families so if you have developed these then check your family history.

If you have had varicose veins then you are more than likely to develop thread veins as well.

Other causes include:

  • Cancer treatment such as radiation therapy
  • Excessive sun exposure
  • Injury

The good news if you develop thread veins whilst pregnant is that they disappear after childbirth.

Symptoms of thread veins

They take the form of reddish-blue or purple lines on the surface of the skin. They don’t cause any symptoms and are harmless.

Treatment for thread veins

They don’t cause any symptoms or health problems so can be left to their own devices. But it is an individual decision as to whether you want to treat them or leave them. This also depends upon whether you have varicose veins as well.

If you have varicose veins then have treatment for thread veins as well, for example laser therapy.

A camouflage cream can be applied to the skin to hide the signs of thread veins. Other options include:

  • Laser ablation therapy: a laser beam is directed at the thread vein, aiming short bursts of energy which shrinks the offending vein.
  • Microsclerotherapy: a procedure where a chemical is injected into thread veins which causes the veins to swell and stops blood flow.

You will be asked to wear a special compression stocking after treatment as this aids with healing and prevents blood from flowing back into the thread veins.

What you need to remember is that this is not an overnight cure. It takes several weeks before you notice any improvement so be patient. Plus this treatment is not a ‘cure all’: it is ‘damage limitation’ in that it removes the offending veins but does not stop new thread veins from developing.

You need to be realistic about the outcome of the treatment.