Thread veins are tiny blood vessels which run close to the surface of the skin and look like fine red, or sometimes purple, wiggly lines. They’re also sometimes called ‘spider veins’ or ‘broken veins’, although the veins are not infact broken but only slightly enlarged. The medical term for them is telangiectasia. Thread veins tend to develop as we age and our skin and blood vessels become less elastic. Hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and the menopause are thought to provoke their development which is the reason why women are more prone to them than men. You can also inherit a family tendency to the problem.
It is generally considered easier to treat smaller thread veins, so early treatment is advisable. Both IPL and sclerotherapy are effective ways to tackle this problem, with veins bigger than 4mm requiring sclerotherapy. This treatment uses a tiny needle (smaller than a sewing needle) to inject a solution (scelerosant) that causes microscopic damage to the cells lining the vein. The vein gradually shrinks and disappears over a period of about eight weeks. Several treatments are usually required.