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Thread Veins: The Lowdown

Love them or hate them (and we very much doubt you love them) facial thread veins, sometimes known as spider veins, are an unfortunate fact of life.

Though not everyone gets them, for those who do, they can be quite noticeable. Worse than being rather unsightly, they can leave you looking considerably older than you are in reality.

Fortunately, facial thread veins are neither dangerous nor difficult to get rid of. But they can get larger, and increase in number as time goes on. Trying to hide them with make-up and concealer can work up to a point. But as thread veins grow darker, this can become a daunting daily task.

So what are they exactly? Why do they appear on our skin as we get older? Are some people more prone to their spidery whims? And how exactly can we be rid of them for good?

Well, we at Cambridge Laser Clinic are here to answer your questions!


What are thread veins?

You’ve probably guessed from the name, but thread veins are just that: veins. However, the kind that we can visibly see are small, dilated blood vessels. We see them because they run close to the surface of the skin, appearing as purple and red wiggly lines.

Thread veins are most common on the face and the legs, but you could honestly spot them anywhere. They’re not picky about where they show up. You may also hear them referred to as broken veins, but they’re not technically broken. Just visible.

The medical term for them is telangiectasia. And unfortunately, they occur in more than half of adults, with women more prone to them than men. In fact, one study in Scotland found that 88% of adult women have visible leg thread veins!


pensive woman against sunny sky with mild cloud coverage looks off-camera

What causes thread veins?

As we’re all aware, getting older doesn’t come without some changes.

One major change in our body (and our skin) is a loss of elasticity as we age. Though it’s not definitely considered to be the cause of thread veins, our blood vessels tend to become less elastic as we get older; and this certainly contributes to their unwanted appearance.

As women are more likely to get thread veins than men, we can attribute one cause of thread veins to hormonal changes such as those the female body goes through during pregnancy and menopause.

And unfortunately, thread veins can also run in families. So if you spot them on your parents or grandparents, there’s a high chance you’ll develop them too.

Though not definitively a cause, we can also worsen existing thread veins on the face and legs, or contribute to their appearance through certain activities. As we’ve said time and again, sunbathing and sun exposure can do horrible things to our skin. And that includes worsening the appearance of thread veins. Along with smoking, drinking, and a few medications.


What can I do about my thread veins once they appear?

If you spot thread veins developing early on, then initially you might get away with simply hiding them or covering them up with make-up. A good concealer or foundation will do the trick, and can significantly reduce their appearance. But that also means committing to wearing fairly heavy-duty stuff on your face, on a regular basis. It’s not exactly a long-term fix.

The honest truth is, once thread veins begin to appear, the chances are high (read: certain) that they’ll get worse. Once they spread and darken, there’s no colour matching concealer in the world that will truly hide them.

You can slow down their development by avoiding alcohol and the other aforementioned skincare sins. Incidentally, you might also find that avoiding particularly hot drinks (temperature-wise) and spicy foods (flavour wise) can also slow them down – much like rosacea.

However, the very best treatment for thread veins is considerably more permanent.


Laser Treatment For Removing Thread Veins

Removing thread veins on the face with laser treatment is a highly effective cosmetic procedure. However, if your thread veins are elsewhere on the body (where they’re usually quite a bit larger), then sclerotherapy is also an option.

At Cambridge Laser Clinic, we combine sclerotherapy (which involves injecting a sclerosing agent into the vein) with vascular laser treatment. Extensive experience has shown us this is the best way to get you your desired result.

man on phone faces away from camera towards sun

Laser treatment from Cambridge Laser Clinic is a non-invasive way of removing your facial thread veins. It works by using quick, short pulses of light to destroy the dilated blood vessels under your skin. This process uses heat and is called photothermolysis.

Since the treatment only targets specific, damaged veins, you can rest assured that the skin surrounding the veins is left untouched and unaffected. And when the treatment is complete, you’ll find your skin looks vein-free again!

Much like several other laser treatments, the procedure isn’t painful; most patients compare the sensation to snapping an elastic band on the surface of your skin. It can be uncomfortable, particularly if it’s on your face, but we use forced cold air or a cryogen spray to cool the skin throughout the procedure to reduce any discomfort.

To work fully, thread vein removal from Cambridge Laser Clinic usually requires multiple treatments. For small veins, 1-2 treatments is enough. For larger veins across larger areas, you may require up to 4 treatments, spaced 4 weeks apart.

For some, there can be a little swelling and sometimes bruising around the treated area after the procedure is complete. At most, this will feel like a mild sunburn, and will disappear in a few days.


Cambridge Laser Clinic

Prior to your treatment, we will go through an initial consultation with you to explain the procedure, how it works, and what sort of results you can expect.

The team of experts at our laser treatment clinic has over 25 years of experience in laser treatments. Our staff are all fully qualified to perform your treatment and are specialist doctors, nurses and practitioners dedicated to providing you with high-quality services.

Whether you want facial thread veins or leg veins removed, we have the expertise to give your skin that healthy, vein-free look once more.