Thread veins are often referred to as spider veins. The actual medical terminology is telangiectasia varicose veins. These are small veins often appearing on the calves, thighs or the face. They are generally more of a cosmetic issue as opposed to a medical problem. Thread veins can negatively impact the confidence level of the individual while causing issues with aesthetics.
There are different options for treating thread veins such as compression hosiery. The veins are red, thin and irregular lines just beneath the skin’s surface. When thread veins appear on the face, they are usually found on the nose and cheeks. When they are on the legs, they can result in restlessness, pain and aches in the legs. Pain is experienced most frequently during the night.
Thread veins not causing any discomfort or pain do not need to be treated for medical reasons. Most individuals have the veins treated due to their appearance. The disadvantages of having these veins on the thighs include being too self-conscious to go swimming at a public pool or sunbath in a crowded area while on vacation. The treatment for thread veins is usually extremely effective.
The most frequently performed treatment is called sclerotherapy. This is actually one of seven treatments currently available for thread veins. In most cases, the individual receives treatment from a dermatologist. To receive the best possible results, dermatologists recommend wearing compression stockings for approximately fourteen days after the veins have been removed.
According to the most current research, individuals with issues in their reticular veins such as thread veins experience relief from restlessness, painful cramping and aches in the legs while they are wearing compression stockings. Although this is effective for temporary relief, compression stockings are usually not a permanent solution for this issue.
The Causes of Thread Veins
There are many different reasons an individual can develop thread veins. They are most frequently caused by:
- Age: The risk of an individual developing thread veins as they age increases. It is possible for young adults to develop this type of vein as well.
- Alcohol and Smoking: Drinking alcohol or smoking to excess does increase the risk of developing thread veins.
- Genetics: If the individual has family members who have developed thread veins, their risk increases.
- Pregnancy: When a woman is pregnant, developing thread veins is common. This is because the walls of the blood vessels are relaxed due to a hormone called oestrogen. This often results in the development of thread veins. Certain individuals believe using contraceptive pills can increase this risk. This is no evidence at this time to support this belief.
- Weight: Excess weight places additional pressure on the legs. This is also a contributing factor to poor circulation throughout the skin. Thread veins are a common outcome.
The Best Way to Help Prevent Thread Veins
There are actions an individual can take if they are worried they may develop thread veins. The best ways to prevent the formation of thread veins include:
- Living a healthy lifestyle including exercise and a healthy diet.
- Using lighter weight compression stockings. This is especially important if the individual is experiencing aches in the legs. Varicose veins are a common result when numerous thread veins are present. The aching can be relieved by both compression stockings and compression tights.
- Avoiding sudden temperature changes like taking a hot bath and eliminating spicy foods.
- Making an appointment with a dermatologist to determine if thread veins are present and the best treatment. The aftercare instructions must be followed carefully to ensure the best possible results from the treatment.
Approximately 89 percent of all women who believe they have thread veins have varicose veins as well. These are the veins often feeding thread veins. Forty percent of these women have hidden varicose veins. This is serious because if they are not treated, issues often occur in the future. Only eleven percent of women with thread veins do not require another treatment. The underlying issue must be corrected for the treatment to be effective.
There are a lot of insurance companies that will cover the cost of treatment for varicose veins. Some of them do not cover thread veins. The individual should speak with their insurance company prior to treatment to determine what is covered and what is not.
The Consultation Prior to Treatment
The medical professional will ask a lot of questions during the initial consultation. This includes:
- Any surgeries the individual has had in the area to be treated including any prior vein treatments.
- Any issues the individual has experienced in the treatment area including previous injuries and pain.
- The goals of the individual.
- All current medical conditions, medical treatments, drug allergies and family history.
- All current medications, herbal supplements and vitamins and any drug, tobacco or alcohol use.
- The overall health, risk factors and all pre-existing medical conditions of the individual will be evaluated.
- The most likely outcomes for thread vein treatment will be discussed including any potential complications or risks.
- The veins will be examined in detail.
- All options will be explained and discussed.
- A course of treatment will be recommended.
If the issue is thread veins, the medical professional will look for any serious underlying issues such as deep veins and large varicose veins. These conditions can be identified by changes in the skin by the ankle, sores and swelling. If any serious issues are discovered, the individual will usually require further evaluation. Asking questions is important during the consultation.
The individual should understand their condition and exactly what is involved with the recommended treatment. It is all right to ask about the way the area will appear after treatment, any stress the person is feeling or questions that may seem insignificant but are important for peace of mind.
The Treatment Options for Thread Veins and Varicose Veins
There are seven different types of treatments for thread veins and varicose veins. The best course of treatment will be determined by your vascular consultant.
Lifestyle Changes: Both varicose and thread veins can sometimes be treated by walking, losing excess weight and good skin hygiene.
Compression Stockings: The most common approach is wearing compression stockings or hose with the proper fit. This is often recommended for uncomfortable or painful symptoms. This type of stocking is available at some pharmacies and all surgical supply stores. They can be purchased in pantyhose and above or below the knee styles.
Sclerotherapy: This procedure was first used during the 1930s. This is a good option for treatment. A highly concentrated solution of a customised detergent, salt or saline is injected into the vein. Over a period of three to six weeks, the vein will gradually disappear. This is a fairly inexpensive, simple, outpatient procedure. Prior to the procedure, the individual will consult with a vein specialist.
This consultation is important because not everyone is a good candidate for sclerotherapy. Pregnant women are unable to have this procedure. It is safe for women using birth control pills. If the individual has ever had a blood clot, the medical professional will determine if they are eligible. This is dependent on why the clot occurred and the general health of the potential treatment area.
Radiofrequency Occlusion: A small catheter is used for insertion into the vein. Radiofrequency energy can then be delivered to the wall of the vein. The vein heats, collapses and seals itself shut. This procedure is either performed with local anaesthesia or on an outpatient basis in an office.
Endovenous Vein Surgery: This is a laser procedure for varicose veins. The procedure begins with the insertion of a small laser fiber into the vein. The device emits radiation in a thin beam in light form. This is directed at the bulging, swollen vein. This causes the vein to collapse. The vein shrinks prior to being closed due to the scar tissue present in the vein.
Once the vein is sealed, the flow of blood is transferred to the other nearby veins. Although this procedure does require local anaesthesia, it is still performed on an outpatient basis.
Intense Pulsed Light and Lasers: Intense pulsed light or surface laser treatments such as PhotoDerm and Vasculight may also be treatment options. Heat energy is used by these types of devices for the destruction of abnormal veins or to cause selective damage. The biggest advantages are no sclerosing solutions or needles are necessary for this treatment and any discomfort is minor.
This treatment is not frequently used due to side effects such as the formation of blisters staining and discolouring. This treatment is generally not as effective as others.
Surgery: Surgery may be necessary for treating varicose veins. This includes stripping and ligation. Stripping is removing a long portion of the vein. Ligation is when the vein is tied off. Large surface veins can be removed through ambulatory phlebectomy without any stitches. Surgery requires either general, spinal or local anaesthesia. The majority of individuals are able to go home the same day. This procedure is usually for the treatment of larger varicose veins.
Not every individual with thread veins or varicose veins will experience any symptoms. The best way to diagnose the condition is to consult with a medical professional.
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