A problem shared by mother-of-four and GP Clare Bailey

A problem shared by mother-of-four and GP Clare Bailey: How can I banish thread veins before my holiday?

  • An anonymous person has revealed that they are nervous revealing their legs
  • They said that they have noticed new thread veins on their calves and thighs 
  • They asked GP Clare Bailey what they can do to stop varicose veins forming

Q Now summer is here, I’m thinking of exposing my pale, mottled legs in swimwear on holiday. But I’ve noticed new thread veins on my calves and thighs. I’m 42 and they’ve been growing in number after passing 40. 

Friends the same age have been talking about theirs, too. When one went to see if she could have them lasered, she was told she’d left it too late as there were too many to treat. 

Because mine seem to be multiplying alarmingly, I’m worried I’ll have the same problem. At the moment, I daren’t wear anything but a maxi dress. 

An anonymous person has revealed that they are nervous revealing their legs. They said that they have noticed new thread veins on their calves and thighs

Is there anything I can do to stop more appearing and will they turn into varicose veins? 

A It can be very disconcerting when you start noticing things which come with age. Thread veins are fine red, blue or purple veins which are also called ‘spider veins’ because of their appearance. They are harmless and usually painless, but can put you off having your legs on show. 

The technical name for the veins is telangiectasia. These can appear on other parts of the body, particularly the face, because sun exposure damages the stretchy collagen in the skin, leaving it thinner and more fragile and the veins more prone to damage. 

As many as 41 per cent of women over 50 will have thread veins, which tend to grow in number over time. 

A dermatologist or health professional may advise non-surgical treatments, which are safe and easy, with only minor discomfort. 

GP Clare Bailey (pictured) advises avoiding sitting or standing still for long periods of time and to exercise to improve circulation

These include sclerotherapy, where a chemical is injected into the vein to make it collapse and disappear. This is the cheapest, fastest option. The alternative is IPL laser therapy, using focused light to zap the veins, and can leave temporary purple skin pigmentation, redness or blistering, and very rarely, scarring. 

Most people can return to normal activities the next day. Some may need to use compression stockings for a while afterwards. 

Small spider veins usually disappear after treatment. It doesn’t stop more appearing, though. 

So how can you stop getting spider veins in the first place? 

Avoid sitting or standing still for long periods. Exercise to improve circulation. Thread veins do not become varicose veins, but are a sign of poor circulation, a cause of varicose veins. 

Also, try not to put on weight and avoid a highly processed and sugary diet, as this ages the skin faster. Eating a healthy diet, with plenty of good-quality protein, fibre, natural fats, fruits, veg, wholegrains and nuts will help protect the skin. Wearing sun cream reduces skin damage, which can also cause thread veins (particularly on the face). 

Massaging and moisturising the skin may help to improve circulation, as might creams containing vitamin K, but these are unlikely to remove the veins. 

  • I often get asked about healthy eating for before and after conception, as good nutrition is obviously crucial for both mother and baby. So I was delighted to come across this new practical guide, The Fertility Kitchen, by nutritional therapist Charlotte Grand, providing enticing recipes which are nutrient rich and created with fertility in mind. Charlotte also points out that support extends beyond food to encompass lifestyle changes too, as well as managing stress, sleep and mindset. I would have loved a book like this when I had my first child more than 30 years ago! 

What eyes say about our health 

Researchers using data from the UK Biobank recently used AI to look at 500,000 retinal images and found they could use them to predict the risk of heart attacks

It is said our eyes are the window to our souls. I’m not sure about that, but they are the window to your heart. A photo of the blood vessels at the back of your eye, the retina, can reveal if you might have high blood pressure. And it may soon do more. 

Researchers using data from the UK Biobank recently used AI to look at 500,000 retinal images and found they could use them to predict the risk of heart attacks. So it seems looking deeply into your eyes in the future could reveal other diseases earlier. 

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