top of page

What are thread veins?

Thread veins are similar to varicose veins but smaller in size and closer to the skin surface. They represent clusters of tiny blood vessels (venules) beneath the skin that have become dilated creating thread like red or purple lines, often with a web-like appearance, on the skin (See figure 1).

Thread/spider veins

What causes thread veins?

The exact causes of thread veins are not fully understood, but the majority of cases probably represent damage to the skin from chronic exposure to sunlight, hence their preponderance to occurring in areas of the body exposed to the sun, such as the legs and face. Other recognised causes of thread veins include hormonal changes, the natural process of ageing and venous hypertension; spider veins are often present in patients with varicose veins.

Should I be worried by thread veins?

No. The vast majority of thread veins represent benign skin changes that cause cosmetic upset as opposed to a serious threat to health. Very rarely thread veins may be a sign of an occult or known serious illness, such as liver disease or systemic lupus erythematosus. Where indicated your Circulation Clinic surgeon will investigate for any underlying condition causing your thread veins prior to recommending a treatment.

What symptoms do thread veins cause?

The majority of thread veins rarely cause significant symptoms with the main concern being related to their cosmetic appearance. When symptoms do occur, these are predominantly itchiness or an uncomfortable feeling in the surrounding skin. Where thread veins occur in conjunction with varicose veins, the symptoms of varicose veins may also occur (See varicose veins).

What are the treatments for thread veins?

At Circulation Clinic we base our treatment practices on the best available evidence from the medical academic literature in addition to our clinical experience. Microsclerotherapy and laser therapy are both used for the treatment of thread veins. However, recent clinical trials report microsclerotherapy to be less painful, associated with faster clearing of the veins and similar, if not better, long-term outcomes when compared to laser therapy. Therefore, Circulation Clinic offers microsclerotherapy as our gold standard treatment for thread veins (See Figure 2 & foam sclerotherapy for details of treatment).

Why should I come to Circulation Clinic?

At Circulation Clinic we base our treatment practices on the best available evidence from the medical academic literature in addition to our considerable clinical experience. Each client is reviewed and treated by an expert vascular surgeon ensuring they receive the best in care and expertise. We strongly recommend review and treatment by a qualified vascular surgeon who is not only experienced in treating thread and varicose veins, but who also has the medical knowledge and experience to identify those clients in who further investigation is indicated to rule out any underlying serious medical condition.

Search Symptoms and Conditions

What should I do next?

If you think you have this condition or any of the described symptoms we recommend you seek medical advice.

For further information or to arrange an appointment at Circulation Clinic

Enquiries: 0345 3690106


Varicose veins

Fig 1: Classical telangiectasia (spider veins)

Fig 2: Sclerotherapy for telangiectasia 

How successful is treatment?

The treatment outcomes for threade veins are often dependent on their extent and individual client aims. The majority of clients require 2-3 treatment sessions in order to achieve a satisfactory result. However, the volume of sclerosant agent that can be safely used during each session dictates the number of sessions required. Unfortunately, any treatment for thread veins often represents a temporizing solution with recurrence common after 6 months; approximately 50% will recur, often to a lesser degree, within 6 months.

bottom of page