Thread veins (also called spider veins) are tiny broken capillaries just below the skin surface. They are not painful or harmful and can occur anywhere on the body but most often on the legs and face. They look like tiny red threads and shouldn’t be confused with varicose veins, which are larger, lumpy blue or purple that bulge at the skin’s surface.
There are numerous causes. Lifestyle choices such as alcohol and smoking are huge factors for thread veins, as is excessive sun exposure. Thread veins on the legs often occur when the valves of larger veins collapse and stop working properly. Being overweight is another high-risk factor as it puts greater pressure on the veins. This in turn causes the veins and valves to weaken and break, leading to both thread and varicose veins. Another reason is sitting with legs tucked underneath, which restricts blood flow. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can also be a key cause as it increases pressure in the veins.
*Photorejuvenation treatments like Lumecca are a fast and easy way to zap the redness. This treatment relies on Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) to target broken capillaries, with little discomfort and only a few days’ recovery time. During this process, a beam of light is directed at the vessels that fragments and destroys them. The body’s own repair system takes away the debris and the skin looks clear. The treatment also helps tightens skin and boost collagen. You may need two or three treatments, a month apart and it is vital that you use SPF 30 after the treatment to protect the new skin.
You cannot have this treatment four weeks before or after a tan – real or fake.
*Sclerotherapy: A minimally invasive procedure, which involves injecting a diluted solution through a very small needle into the veins, which then permanently destroys the dilated blood vessels. The treatment is effective but it can take a long time. One injection can treat an inch of a vein and you’ll find a series of treatments are needed for the best results.
*Avoid using steam rooms or saunas and using very hot to cold water temperatures on your face. Blood vessels contract when exposed to extreme conditions and this can cause permanent broken capillaries.
*Include more Omega 3 in your diet – good sources include salmon and tuna or a few almonds every other day – can help the skin repair itself. Berries – blue, black and red berries and dark cherries get their colour from the antioxidant flavonoid ‘anthocyanin’. Studies show this can help strengthen the walls of small blood vessels, helping prevent thread veins. They will also stimulate oil and collagen production to boost the youthful appearance of your skin.
*Don’t sit or stand for long periods. Make sure you walk around and stretch out your legs every half hour or so to prevent this from happening. Support tights can also help if you regularly stand or sit for long periods.
*If the broken veins are relatively light, a self-tanner or mineral make up will be enough to camouflage
*Putting your feet up whenever you watch TV or even when eating can increase healthy blood flow and prevent any existing veins from worsening. Try placing pillows under your legs while you sleep for extra elevation.