You may have your mother to thank for varicose veins, those unsightly blue bumpy streaks that occur when the valves in veins stop working and blood starts to pool. If she had them, there’s a 45% chance you’ll get them. If both your parents did, it rises to 90%. With no genetic link, there’s a 16% chance.
‘Leg thread veins are very common and approximately 86% of women will get them, so it’s impossible to say whether they’re inherited,’ says Professor Mark Whiteley, consultant venous surgeon at the Whiteley Clinic. However, in the majority of cases, they’re a sign of underlying varicose veins, so must be checked out. Specialist venous duplex ultrasound scanning equipment can locate them, but that’s not something you’ll necessarily find in a cosmetic clinic. ‘When a doctor does a “quick” scan, it’s been shown they miss at least 30% of underlying varicose veins,’ says Professor Whiteley.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
AT HOME While it’s vital to get leg veins checked, blurring them with make-up or a fake tan can mean the difference between wearing a skirt or trousers. Try adding Tan-luxe The Body Illuminating Self-tan Drops, £42, to your moisturiser (use more for a deeper tan). Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Lotion, £13.99, is a foundation for legs, and Keromask Camouflage Cream, £12.99, acts as a concealer. To reduce swelling and soothe painful veins, try Cloud9 Skin Solutions Nature’s Miracle, £30. PAY A PRO To ensure varicose veins don’t develop in the same way as your mother’s, Professor Whiteley advises having them treated early by a venous specialist. This would have meant, 20 years ago, ‘stripping’ them – removing the surface vein under general anaesthetic. Now, there are minimally invasive techniques pioneered by Professor Whiteley, such as sealing the vein from within using a laser, after scanning to find the causes. This has reduced recurrence rates to just 3.3% and given us not just more youthful looking legs but healthier ones, too.
As thread veins are most likely a sign of underlying varicose veins, it’s important to get those treated first. The best treatment is then microsclerotherapy, where a substance is injected into the vein to destroy the wall – wearing compression stockings is a must for 14 to 21 days afterwards to minimise the risk of being left with brown stains.