bring blood from the heart to the extremities. Veins contain one
way valves and channel blood back to the heart. When there is obstruction
of veins, or when prolonged pressure is placed on the veins, the
valves stretch and no longer close properly. This allows blood to
travel back down the veins towards the feet. The veins in the legs
that are near to the surface of the skin enlarge and result in what
is commonly called varicose veins. These can range from minor dilatations
to large lumps in the calf. Very small purple or blue veins in the
skin of the legs are called "thread veins" or "spider
veins" or dermal flares and often occur alongside large varicose
veins. Some people are only affected by dermal flares. Both types
of varicose veins are probably caused by the same factors.
is a slowly progressive disease which if left untreated can lead
to marked skin change damage or ulceration near the ankle.
Why do varicose
veins arise? Heredity is important in the development of varicose
veins, thread veins and spider veins. Up to 20% of the adult population
have varicose veins and experience discomfort as a result. Many
people know of other family members with the same problem. A recent
study showed that where both parents had varicose veins there was
an 80% chance of their children developing varices. Environmental
factors also play a large part in the development of varicosities,
for example, prolonged standing - especially for workers such as
nurses, sales assistants, flight attendants, waitresses and teachers,
for example. Diet may also be a factor, and our Western diet with
high content of fat and refined sugar with low fiber content may
contribute to the development of varicose veins, spider veins and
thread veins. Varicose veins may also become more frequent with
advancing age, but may appear at any time of life and small varices
are sometimes seen in school children. Although all factors such
as puberty, pregnancy and the menopause also influence the course
of the disease. As many as 70 - 80% of pregnant women develop varicose
veins during the first trimester. Pregnancy causes an increase in
hormone levels and blood volume which in turn causes veins to enlarge.
Later in pregnancy, the enlarge uterus causes increased pressure
on the veins in the pelvis. Approximately 60 - 70% of varicose veins
due to pregnancy will disappear within a few weeks of delivery.
has been done to investigate the role of the pill and hormone replacement
therapy (HRT) in the development of varicose veins. These probably
have no influence on them.
VNUS Closure or RF ablation is a recently introduced method of treatment.
This reduces the post-operative pain following treatment.
may cause feelings of fatigue, heaviness, aching, burning, throbbing,
itching and cramps in the legs. These symptoms are often accompanied
by swelling of the ankle, which frequently appears after long hours
of standing. Some people are very troubled by the aching that varicose
veins produce. Even small dermal flares can result in severe aching
which prevents standing for any length of time.
What can I
do to prevent them? Many of the things that seem to cause varicose
veins are difficult to avoid such as a family history or Western
way of life. Where possible standing still for long periods should
be avoided. Walking is much better for the veins and helps the blood
return to the heart from the legs. In occupations that require extended
periods of standing then a few steps should be taken at regular
short intervals to help circulation. Wearing support stockings may
also reduce the likelihood of varicose veins. No creams or drugs
are available to prevent varicose veins. The earlier varicose veins
and dermal flares are treated the better the long term and cosmetic
outcome. We hope that this varicose vein information will help you
understand the causes of thread veins.
Facial veins can be treated by IPL (PhotoDerm treatment). This is
also useful for rosacea and broken veins on the face. One the legs
thread vein removal or broken veins can be treated by sclerotherapy
(also known as microsclerotherapy) by a vascular surgeon or a nurse
specialist. These may cause aching legs or swollen legs in some
patients. We have locations in London including Wimpole Street near