Varicose veins and thread veins are a major cause of complaint, especially by women. Just about every woman is going to get thread veins at some time in her life, and some patients are so badly affected that their legs look like a piece of blue cheese! Thread veins come in a variety of colors and sizes. There are largish blue ones going down in size to really fine tiny red ones. The reason for the difference in color is simply due to how close to the skin surface the vein is. Larger veins a bit deeper in the skin will look blue, smaller veins close to the skin surface will appear red.
Of course, what every patient wants to know is how to fix them, or at the very least how to disguise them. Most people are realistic enough to know that it is unlikely that anyone is going to be able to make their legs look like they did when they were 20. On the other hand, most people aspire to be able to wear shorts, knee length skirts and swimming costumes without feeling embarrassed or self-conscious. As a vein surgeon I can usually tell which women have bad veins without even looking at the legs – they are the ones wearing trousers in summer when everyone else is in shorts…
The first option is to cover them up – by use of make up, rather than with clothing. The simplest and quickest option is to use a bit of fake tan – for short periods on certain skin types this can be very effective at masking veins blemishes.
Going up a grade there are some excellent cosmetic grade concealers, which can be obtained from the British Society of Camouflage Artists. These products are a lot more sophisticated than the stuff available in the high street and they are usually a palette type of product where the make up is mixed together to match the patients skin type. It is quite amazing how effective these cosmetics can be in masking facial disfigurements and they work equally well on legs.
Finally there is the treatment solution. Over the years I have used a variety of types of skin lasers, intense pulsed light machines and various other devices. However I still find that the best option for getting rid of thread veins is old-fashioned injection sclerotherapy, where we use a very tiny needle to inject a sclerosing chemical into the fine veins to make them clot off and disappear. I find injections are very effective for the larger thread veins – as the veins get smaller they do become more and more tricky to get a needle into and sometimes the finishing touches need to be applied using one of the skin laser type machines if we are striving for perfection. Injection sclerotherapy takes time and patience, but with persistence and attention to detail, most patients get a very good result and can then expose their legs in public with confidence.
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This article is written by Eddie Chaloner, a consultant vascular surgeon operating in London and the South East at Radiance Health. Eddie specializes in the treatment of varicose veins, thread veins, and DVT treating over 600 patients a year.
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