Spider Veins And The NHS: All You Need To Know

Spider Veins And The NHS: All You Need To Know

Spider veins, also known as ‘thread veins’, can be a concern wherever they appear on the body. These damaged veins appear as a network of thin, red or purple lines that are visible through the skin. They most commonly appear on the face, hands or legs, and are considerably smaller than varicose veins. However, they are no less deserving of proper assessment and treatment.

As many people dislike their appearance, it’s not uncommon to choose to have them removed. So if you have spider veins that you’d like to get rid of, you may be wondering if the treatment is available through the NHS.

Spider vein treatment is not covered by the NHS

Unfortunately, spider vein treatments are not covered by the NHS. The reason for this is that spider vein treatment is considered to be cosmetic. Even varicose veins, which are much larger than spider veins, are only covered under particular circumstances - namely, if they’re severe enough to cause pain or discomfort. As spider veins never usually cause physical discomfort, the only option for having them removed is with a private clinic. The below is taken directly from the NHS website in reference to telangiectasia varicose veins, also known as ‘spider veins':

“Some people also get treatment for cosmetic reasons – but this kind of treatment is rarely available on the NHS, so you'll usually have to pay for it to be done privately” - NHS

What causes spider veins to appear?

Similarly to varicose veins, spider (thread) veins are caused by failing valves that allow blood to flow in the wrong direction and pool in the veins. Spider veins appear as tiny webs beneath the skin, coloured red, blue or purple

The venous valves may be damaged or weakened for a number of reasons, including genetics, diet or a lack of exercise. Other common risk factors include age, exposure to cold weather, or pregnancy

While spider veins are sometimes dismissed as merely a cosmetic issue, spider veins on the legs can be symptomatic, and cause irritation, itching or even burning sensations if left untreated. Some people dislike the appearance of these veins, which can lead to lowered self-image.

Can spider veins be prevented?

While there’s no guaranteed way of preventing thread veins from appearing, there are a few simple actions you can take to reduce your risk or to stop them from worsening. These include maintaining an active lifestyle, wearing compression stockings, and not crossing your legs while sitting

While these practises can help reduce the spread of spider veins, it's not possible to reverse their development once they’ve formed, without some form of treatment

You can learn more about spider vein prevention by reading this blog article

How to get rid of spider veins - Are there alternate treatments?

You may find advice online on how to treat spider veins without a medical procedure, for instance with natural remedies such as apple cider vinegar, horse chestnut, vitamin C or coconut oil. However, as with any information you find online, it’s important to question the sources; the truth is that none of these things can treat the damaged veins lying under the surface of your skin.

Similarly, there are some creams on the market that claim to treat spider veins. While these can sometimes help make spider veins less noticeable, they can’t actually treat the issue. Retinoid cream, for example, contains two substances (tretinoin and a form of vitamin A known as retinyl) that work together to boost cell regeneration and collagen production. These thicken the skin, making any veins underneath less visible. However, the damaged spider veins will still be there and will reappear when the effects of the cream wear off.

Makeup can be used to camouflage spider veins, but this is of course a very temporary fix. Unfortunately you also can’t just wait it out as spider veins won’t go away on their own. The only way to remove them permanently is to have them medically treated.

Removing spider veins for good

The simplest way to treat spider veins is by encouraging the body to absorb them naturally. Treatments such as Veinwave use micro thermal coagulation to do exactly that. The procedure is completely non-invasive and involves applying a targeted source of heat to seal the damaged veins. Once they are closed off, the body simply reabsorbs them, removing them completely and permanently.

Veinwave treatment, which is also known as ‘Thermavein’, is a form of thermal coagulation where a precisely targeted source of heat is used to seal, collapse and gently remove the damaged veins. In comparison to other heat-based therapies, such as laser treatments, Veinwave is proven to deliver better outcomes and is safer, as it is not associated with skin discolouration or damage

Another treatment option for spider veins is microsclerotherapy which can be done alongside Veinwave for maximum benefit. Microsclerotherapy involves injecting the spider veins with diluted liquid sclerosant using micro needles. This then helps to collapse the walls of the damaged vein, preventing blood flow and allowing them to be absorbed into the body.

Microsclerotherapy is a gentle technique. Here, unhealthy veins are permanently removed through the injection of a saline solution, which makes the vein wall collapse to stop blood flowing through it. The body will then naturally reabsorb the collapsed vein

Advice is available

Although you may be disappointed to learn that this spider / thread vein treatment isn’t available on the NHS, we’re more than happy to work with you to find a payment option that works for you. If you have private medical insurance with Bupa or AXA, we can help you understand if you are covered for the treatment cost. If you do not have this insurance, we may offer a 3 month payment plan - you can see our pricing page for more information. To find out more about your options and to help us create a treatment plan tailored to your needs, you can book an initial consultation at either of our London Harley Street, Wimbledon, Cambridge, Birmingham, Maidenhead, Reading or Manchester Pall Mall clinics.

Have your spider veins professionally assessed

If you have spider / thread veins anywhere on your body, the first step on your treatment journey is to talk to one of our vascular specialists at the UK Vein Clinic. Our specialists will assess your thread veins and give you the best advice for next steps

Appointments can be arranged in either our London Harley Street or Manchester Pall Mall clinics, both easily accessible from nearby cities and towns

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Where to find us

We're pleased to be able to provide our world-class varicose vein treatment in a variety of places throughout the United Kingdom. Learn more about your treatment options, including endovenous radio-frequency ablation (EVRF) and foam sclerotherapy, at the clinic closest to you


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