Can Thread Veins Turn Into Varicose Veins?

thread vein legsIf you have developed thread veins on your legs, you may be wondering whether they are likely to turn into something worse – i.e. lumpy/twisted varicose veins. 

The good news is that thread veins do not directly cause or develop into varicose veins. They are two different conditions. They look different and affect different types of veins.

Thread veins develop in the small to medium size veins near the surface of the skin, while varicose veins affect the larger veins deeper in the legs.

Thread veins tend to be a cosmetic issue – they are noticeable, but don’t cause pain, itching, discomfort or irritation.

On the other hand, varicose veins can be very uncomfortable, painful and itchy. They can cause skin conditions and ulcers too.

However, if you do have thread veins, it is an indication that your circulation is deficient and therefore you may also be predisposed to developing varicose veins in the future.

What’s more, if you have varicose veins, then there is a risk of developing thread veins as well, due to the pressure on the smaller veins and vessels surrounding the larger varicose veins.

Thread veins vs varicose veins appearance

GP and founder of the London Vein Centre, Dr Ross Perry explains:

Varicose veins are often the big, bulgy blue veins that you see in people on the lower parts of the legs.

Thread veins tend to be much thinner, reddy purpley veins, which are often on the surface of the skin.”

Varicose veins are deeper than thread veins

“The major difference between the two veins is the depth of where they are.

“Varicose veins are often a problem with the underlying veins, which are your deeper veins and the valves that are with those; and often what happens is the valves mean that the blood doesn’t flow back to the heart as well as it should do.

“As a result of this you get pooling of the blood and stretching of the veins. This then causes them to ache and swell. Those are the varicose veins that can then often potentially have a knock-on effect on causing thread veins further up in the skin; but not always.”

Preventing vein problems

The best way to try and prevent or slow the progression of venous disease is to keep healthy and active:

  • Exercise regularly, e.g. walking, jogging, swimming, biking
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruit/veg and low fat
  • Keep an appropriate weight

Diagnosing vein problems

Dr Ross Perry explains that it is not always easy to tell the difference between thread veins and varicose veins:

“So unfortunately, trying to decide whether or not somebody’s got varicose veins and thread veins often requires an ultrasound scan; which not only is able to determine whether or not somebody has deep underlying problems that could potentially cause varicose veins and ultimately to thread veins higher up; or whether or not the varicose veins themselves are in fact not working properly and causing symptoms such as aching in the lower legs.

“This is a very simple procedure that is done in-house with our vascular surgeon and so they were able to tell you and give you the results there and then.”

London Vein Treatment Centre

Established in 2003, Cosmedics Skin Clinics offer treatment for varicose veins, thread veins and other vascular conditions using the latest techniques. All consultations and treatments are carried out with GMC-registered doctors and surgeons. Advanced ‘day case’ varicose vein treatment is available at specially equipped London Vein Treatment Centre locations:

  • 4 Disraeli Road, Putney, London, SW15 2DS
  • 41 Harley Street, London, W1G 8QH

Thread vein treatment is additionally available at:

  • The Smart Clinics, 30 Thurloe Place, South Kensington, London, SW7 2JE
  • City Walk in Clinic, Ground floor, Renown House, 33–34 Bury Street, London, EC3A 5AR

For more information, please complete the form to the right hand side or call 020 7386 0464.

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