Veins are an important part of our circulatory system. They carry deoxygenated blood back to the heart, ready to be resupplied with oxygen. This process happens automatically. The only time we give it much thought is usually when our veins become visible. Varicose veins and thread veins are common examples of this and are often found in the legs.
Varicose veins develop when the small valves inside the vein stop working properly, allowing blood to flow backwards. Blood then collects in the vein instead of being pushed towards the heart. Eventually, the vein becomes swollen and enlarged and can be seen through the skin. They may be blue or purple and sometimes cause the skin over the affected area to become dry and itchy.
Thread veins, also known as spider veins, are the result of the same faulty valves that begin to allow blood to flow in the wrong direction. Although similar in cause, thread veins look different from varicose veins and present with different symptoms. Thread veins are usually small, flat lines that appear through the skin in a web-like pattern. The lines may be red, blue or purple, and are usually painless.
Varicose and thread veins rarely require treatment, but sometimes people elect to have cosmetic procedures to reduce their appearance.
If you relate to this condition but still feel unsure, at Harpenden Skin Clinic we are always here to help and advise patients on the best possible treatment journey performed by experienced clinicians.