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Have you started to notice blue or purple discolouration on your legs when the summer months roll around and you're opting for a shorter hem? Perhaps you're experiencing a nagging dull ache in your calf, accompanied by an unsightly cord-like bulge? If so - we're afraid you're suffering with enlarged leg veins.
Often assumed to be just an affliction of the older man or woman, visible veins can actually affect people from as early as their 20s. Leading to lumpy or discoloured limbs, enlarged leg veins can not only be a source of embarrassment, but often will become sore, itchy and even painful.
What's going on beneath the surface?
Veins in the body are responsible for pumping blood towards the heart. These veins contain small valves which are designed to make sure that blood flows in the right direction - think of these valves like one-way road signs. On some occasions, though, these valves falter.
When this happens, blood gets trapped in the vein and begins to pool. This backup and added pressure causes the vein to stretch and bulge, making it far more prominent. On occasion they may even burst and become visibly discoloured - this is what we come to see on the surface. These leg veins might appear to be anything from a very small, flat burst of red; to a large, obtrusive bulge of purple or blue.
We refer to flat, smaller veins which are characterised by their blue, red or purple colouring and traditionally thunderbolt shape as Spider Veins or Thread Veins. Larger, bulbous or pronounced veins are instead referred to as Varicose Veins.
Why on my legs? The reason that these types of engorged veins typically crop up on the legs and feet is because they are the farthest from the heart and therefore these veins must work harder to pump the blood where it needs to be. Standing and walking upright then also increases the pressure on these veins and can result in swelling.
Where do they come from? Enlarged veins can be a result of familial ties, and a genetic predisposition to faulty vein networks. They may also come about in response to obesity, due to the fact that a sedentary lifestyle is linked to a higher rate of tissue deterioration. In other words, the body adopts a 'use it or lose it' mentality!
Who gets them? These types of veins are exceedingly common and are said to affect an estimated 88% of women and 79% of men. They can occur at any age, although are more frequently found in older patients as the walls of our blood vessels weaken with age as a result of collagen loss, sun exposure and even certain medication.
With a wealth of treatments, designed just for you...
Treatments for enlarged leg veins are aimed at killing the affected vein so that it may then then become incorporated back into the surrounding tissue. This can be achieved in a few different ways, depending on the nature of your case.
For finer veins, we use Lumecca IPL. This works very well for thread veins anywhere on the body, in particular the face and fine mats of veins on the legs that are too small for injection. Lumecca IPL is also effective for other vascular blemishes such as haemangiomas (cherry red spots) and spider naevi (dilated blood vessels) - it is for that reason that it is also sometimes used to treat redness associated with Rosacea. IPL consists of a series of light pulses which are absorbed into the blood, causing heat damage to the vessels which are then broken down and removed by the bodies repair processes. Over the course of 2-4 weeks, the treated area then returns to the natural colour of your skin.
Alternatively, larger veins - such as Varicose veins or more severe Thread veins - are treated with a series of injections known as Sclerotherapy. Treated veins are injected with an irritant designed to collapse and abolish the affected vein. This approach is extremely effective, and has helped thousands of men and women around the world dare to bare their legs once again.
To explore either of these treatments in more depth, click below or book in for your free of charge consultation today!
Book in to see any non-medical Harley Street Skin Practitioner for a completely free of charge consultation. Simply register your interest and our team will be in touch!
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